Corporate Knowledge: Kawhi Leonard is not Bruce Bowen


  • Bleacher Report lead blogger Holly MacKenzie was one of the first NBA bloggers to encounter Spurs rookie forward Kawhi Leonard and his enormous handsand wingspan in person.Since then she has had time to admire Leonard from afar:

 “That’s another thing about Leonard, probably one of the things that the Spurs loved about him: He works hard. Really, really hard. He’s very much about going about his business, and his business is basketball. There are no outside distractions or secondary pulls on Leonard. He simply wants to continue to get better and help his team.

When you watch Leonard play, the thing that jumps at you is just how hard he works on every possession. Offense, defense, it doesn’t matter. While most players get an extra burst of energy when they’ve got the ball in their hands, Leonard has one gear and it’s always dialed, whether he’s chasing his opponent around the perimeter, sneaking in to grab an offensive rebound or is handling the ball, ready to make something happen.”


“In his rookie season, however, Leonard has played like the exact opposite of Bowen. Instead of standing in the corner and knocking down 3s like Bowen did, Leonard moves well without the ball and gets to the front of the rim. More than half of his shot attempts come around the rim. And unlike Bowen, who was one of the best perimeter defenders of the past 20 years, Leonard has struggled on defense.”

  •  The comparisons for now are a tad overrated. In my opinion Danny Green has shown more glimpses of Bowen’s unique skill set, especially in his ability to fight over screens and stay attached to a ball handler’s hip without fouling.For the time being Leonard has his moments, but he also struggles between being a lockdown positional defender and a chaotic gambling one. Still, he makes plays. And with the work ethic MacKenzie mentions in the first bullet point, I have my money on him figuring it out sooner rather than later.


 “Doc Rivers made a critical mistake taking Brandon Bass out in favor to Kevin Garnett with under three to go. I don’t mind a tired Garnett coming back in the game but he should have replaced Allen. The Spurs had Duncan and Bonner in the game and Garnett and Bass could have easily held their own on defense. I know Allen made a crucial three pointer, but the Spurs snagged four offensive rebounds in the last three minutes. I’m pretty sure preventing those were worth more than three points.”

  •  Leave it to Matt Bonner to hit a game-clinching shot during a game everyone would rather forget.
  • TheRealDirtyP1

    Bonner FTW. Outscored Ray Allen. 10 pts 10 rebs w/a +8. Best +/- on the court last night.

  • Zach R.

    Holly MacKenzie: Angel.  Canadian angel.

    Also, I wasn’t impressed at all with Gary’s decision making at all last night, on either side of the floor.  I was surprised he played as much as he did during the latter half of the game.

  • theghostofjh

    Because he’s a cold-blooded shooter late in a tight game.

  • theghostofjh

    I wonder if that’s Bonner’s ONLY double-double in his entire 7+ year NBA career?!

  • dannyholloway

    I found it interesting that Bonner consistently has a pretty good +/-. Statistically, you want him on the court. YET….anytime he takes a shot in the clutch, I get nervous and don’t really expect him to make it. Haha. Last night went a long way to proving me wrong tho. Hope he continues to come through. 

  • TheRealDirtyP1

    *referee whistle*
    Offsides, 10 yard penalty.

  • grego

    So far, per NBA stats cube. In the clutch this year (last 5 minutes in games of +/- 5pts)….
    FG: 50%
    3pt: 40%
    Def Rating: 89.1 (overall is 99.5) 
    NetRtg: 31.6 (overall is 12.3)
    Plus-Minus: 25.3 (overall is +9.4)

    Not your go to guy, but definitely has not been a liability either. 

  • DorieStreet

    F to Jesse Blanchard for the blog title. Don’;t fuel the fire for the not-warrented comparisons to Bowen.
    Games are different; plus—Bruce, being an undrafted player, wandered a bit his first 4 seasons in the league, starting only 14 games. Kawhi – a mid-level 1st round pick, has doubled that in his inagural season. His offensive skills alone distinguished him from the recently honored Spur Great. His skills and contributions are unique to him—just watch and develop an apt discription of Kawhi separate from Spurs players of the past–for this one season at least.

  • DorieStreet

    The team has a lot of guys with the green light to pull the trey trigger, so it should be less pressure on Bonner. Except for Neal (3-6). everyone was bad behind the arc–just chalk it up to the rims–or being more truthfully— the passes were late and shots were rushed.

  • theghostofjh

    Interesting article about Spurs 4th quarter “D” (scroll down):

    Anybody seen this article? Any thoughts?

  • TDzilla!

    If Danny Green is like Bruce Bowen and Kawhi has the potential to be one, then think of the possibilities of having two Bowen-like defenders….”we’ll call them the Bruce Brothers, playing defense every game”

  • theghostofjh

    Leonard and Bowen are VERY different players, and their differences will likely be amplified even more in the future. Bowen was a magnificent and very unique “role player” that happened to fit the Spurs system to a “T” during our last three championship runs. But if we’re looking for comparisons with Kawai, I’d look more to draw parallels between his early skill-set/style with a kind of hybrid Shawn Marion & Gerald Wallace type of game. Amazingly, he does appear to have that type of potential as an all-around player (it’s early, and he’s very young, but he could become an even better player than these two).

  • theghostofjh

    They both are better athletes, and are more versatile players than Bowen was. And they both have a ways to go to even approach Bruce’s defensive prowess. And I do agree with Jesse that Danny’s sort of natural defensive style is more like Bowen’s than is Kawai’s.

  • Deeds130

    Bruce was a special talent. We may find strong defenders, but Bowen was in a class by himself during his era, and I don’t think we’ll see another for some time.

  • Frank Ameka

    Would it be too soon to change the corporate knowledge pic? The one you have used so far this season include RJ in it. Not a bad thing, but since he was traded, why not update it? It is a good pic though…

  • Joseph Dooley

    Jesse, consider a new photo for these Corporate Knowledge posts. Jefferson is no longer with the team.

  • Vermont Spurs Fan

    By the way, Tim Duncan gave me a high five on the way up the tunnel after the Celtics game. I was a couple of seats over and reached across the guys (Celtics fans) that were in my way. I yelled to the other Spurs but I really reached out toward Duncan and saw him look at me and then reach that long arm out in my direction. I was more excited about that maybe even than the victory. After 14 years, I finally got to see Duncan in person. This is my favorite year of Duncan’s career. He has had better numbers in other years, but this year you can see how much he loves it. He is appreciating every game and his smile lights up every arena he is in. He knows that he is in the final years of his career and he is just giving the fans so much joy. Thank you Timmy, for the high five, and for the 14 years. No wonder Popovich said, that he might just retire when you do.

  • DorieStreet

    I read it after your post—insightful. The team has been putting up 95 pts plus pretty much all season long – but games like this past Wednesday night @ Celtics occur once in  a while, showing Spurs can and do adapt their game philosphy in going against oppenents.

  • DorieStreet

    To Vermont Spurs Fan–
    +10 on this post and your previous one about the game— and Duncan. I like how now more basketball articles are coming out about TD in the twilight of his career:  his demeanor not changing despite his on the court success, his acceptance of his diminished offensive role due to his declining skills and the direction change by Pop/RC to put emphasis on the backcourt and reserves to assert themselves in point production—while Tim continues to anchor the team defensively.
    I feel #21 and his squad can go far in the playoffs this season, and get Title# 5 that many of us thought was inconceivable over the last few years.

  • andy

    not specifically about leonard, but just read the truehoop post on the ’72 lakers squad that won 33 in a row, and it got me thinking about our corporate knowledge, pop, and how we’re approaching this season.

    hearing about jerry west and pat riley talk about coach bill sharman and how they played that year is eerily reminscent of what we’re doing this year (from

    West: “It’s rare to have a team that everyone seems to know their roles. We could win any kind of game. We certainly could win a game where we scored a lot of points. We could win a slowdown game, a physical game, We could win any kind of game.” 

    “Bill wanted to have a team that was upbeat and could run up and down the court. Even though we were older, we were capable of doing it because we knew when to run, when not to run. Gail averaged 26 a game, I averaged close to 26 a game, led the league in assists. And this was when I thought my career was really on the decline. I wasn’t close to the same player, really, because of the knee injury. Bill’s way of playing probably enhanced all of our abilities. 

    Riley: “Bill brought a real genuine integrity to the franchise. He was very honest with all of us. He communicated extremely well. Any time he sensed there was some kind of tension or somebody was unhappy he would take you aside and talk to you. And we bought in. 
    “When you start winning like we’re winning and you buy in, ‘This guy knows what he’s talking about, he knows how to coach.’ The wheels never came off.”  

    i’m not saying we’re going to win 33 in a row, but doesn’t what they’re talking about sound like corporate knowledge? no tension, people enjoying running and playing with each other. also, i really feel what riley says about sharman could be cut and pasted about pop. we may not get the full picture as fans, but from all accounts, the organization is clear and does right by its players. 

    as a bonus, all the quotes about wilt buying in towards the end of his career sound kinda like what duncan’s doing now. i thought it was an interesting read.

  • spurzztop

    that is a fact BB was one of a kind