Out of the Timeout: Kawhi Leonard’s game winner

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Alright, we’re going to do another of these this week. Let’s have a look at Kawhi Leonard’s game-winning shot against the Rockets on Wednesday night. While Leonard’s shot was’t out of the timeout, nor was it one of Gregg Popovich’s famous late game sets, it’s fun for us to look at, so here we go.

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Cory Joseph (1) brought the ball up court with both big men, Gani Lawal (5) and Frank Hassel (4) down low. Kawhi Leonard (3) is on the right wing and Danny Green (2) was spotted-up in the corner. Leonard cleared out to the opposite corner and Lawal curled around Hassel on his way to the top of the key.

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Joseph dribbled to his right over the Lawal screen and stopped on the right wing. Lawal rolled to the middle of the lane after setting the pick for Joseph. Kawhi Leonard, recognizing that he wasn’t in a position for Joseph to find him with a pass, moved from the opposite corner to the opposite wing.

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Cory Joseph hits Leonard with a pass. Pretty simple. Or is it?

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In this screenshot, you can see how wide open Kawhi Leonard was when Cory Joseph passed him the ball. The man guarding Leonard got sucked into the lane when Lawal rolled to the basket. As Leonard’s man sunk in, Leonard floated up to the wing.

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Once Leonard got the pass from Joseph, Leonard’s man is scrambling. Because he’s moving at full speed to close out on Leonard, Kawhi is able to get him off balance with a jab step to the right, dribble to the left and then the step back. It was a very quick series of moves from Leonard. When he shot it, I didn’t think Leonard had his legs under him enough to get the requisite arc on the ball and hit the shot. But I was wrong, which is not unusual.

And now, the moving pictures in which you can relive Leonard’s preseason game winner in all its glory.


Fast Draw play diagramming software provided by Fast Model Sports Technology.

  • Hobson13

    I hated to see Hill go, but this kid is lottery level talent.  It’s only a meaningless preseason game, but this guy’s gonna be around for a long time.  I really wish Pop would move RJ to the bench and start Leonard.  RJ may be a better player if he were actually given some shots on a consistent basis and having him play the role of 6th man/offensive sparkplug may do that.  In the meantime, #2 needs to play.

  • Anonymous

    I wonder if Pop will be more lenient towards a rook making adjustments like that on his own if they prove to work on a consistent basis.

    There’s a difference in running a play as planned and adjusting on the fly when a play is not going as planned.  And most rooks are too afraid ( or lack adaption abilities) to adapt to a situation for fear of being benched or cut.

    Nice job by Leonard to recognize the situation and make a “proper” adjustment.  That plus – taking it on his own to make a difference in the face of adversity shows one of those “intangible” qualities that makes a difference in a person from being average, good, to great.

  • Anonymous

    I think if Kawhi develops a consistent and dependable perimeter shot we might see that but, that’s a lot of pressure to put on a 20 year old and may do more harm than good if he is placed in that situation too soon.

    Then again…remember what many of our first thoughts were when Parker was chosen to be the starting PG when he was only 19 and first year on the team.

  • Rickymangum62

    YO This is ole skool; Check this out. Cory Jo is the second coming of Maurice Cheeks. They have a lot of common b-Ball skills if any of U can think back that far class act Mr. Cheeks was for this City. Peace

  • Hobson13

    Yeah, I don’t disagree with what you are saying.  I don’t think we should overwork KL, but I envision an almost committee effort at the 3 with KL and RJ.

  • Ed

    Nice to see. Looks like he can shoot, unlike Splitter or Blair.

  • Spurholics in Mumbai

    Hi 48MoH team,

    An unrelated observation, no comments on the roster, now that we are less than 72 hrs away from the first game. Could this roster do the job for the season, hence no major signing, or like a Spurholics I m fantasizing of a Wilson Chandler sign up in late Feb?

    Would really appreciate an article on the same.

  • Pop-a-vich

    Great to see 4 rookies and Green execute a winning play with the game on the line, and nice moves by Kawhi.

  • Tim in Surrey

    Wilson Chandler is pretty much out of the question. He’s a RESTRICTED free agent. So even when he comes back from China, the Nuggets can match the offers of any team that signs him to an offer sheet. A team that is far under the cap could make a very large offer that Denver would have difficulty matching. But the Spurs are over the cap, so that’s not feasible. Kenyon Martin, however, is a different story.

  • Colin

    That was a basketball play nothing more, nothing less.  I look forward to watching him this season.

  • DorieStreet

    Leonard didn’t have a Vegas league this summer or a legitimate training camp & preseason this past fall.
    No need to start him over RJ. But he was picked mid-first round so he needs to be in the rotation. Anderson and Splitter are a year behind due their  injuries since joining the club. The Spurs need to mesh them (along with Neal) with the rookies to get the youth going in this system as soon as possible.