Seemingly every time Kawhi Leonard has played a game for San Antonio, his team has posted a victory.
In Leonard’s 188 career appearances, the Spurs have posted a record of 146-42, meaning the team has won nearly 78 percent of its regular season games since drafting him three years ago.
Only his success on the court hasn’t exactly translated into fantasy production.
Last season, the 23-year-old posted 12.8 points a game, nearly 20 fewer than what Kevin Durant averaged and ranked 18th among all small forwards in scoring.
At the end of the regular season, Leonard was ranked as the 53rd best player in fantasy basketball, 13th among all players at his position after he posted 6.2 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.7 steals and 0.8 blocks per game.
What makes him such an intriguing player for this season is his remarkable efficiency, as Leonard converted at least half of his attempts from the field in 42 of his 66 appearances and he finished the year shooting a career-best 52.2 percent.
Since Leonard is part of Gregg Popovich’s incredibly deep rotation, his productivity has a ceiling because of the limited number of minutes he is available each night.
Once he was unleashed in the last three games of the NBA Finals, the former San Diego State star proved just how devastating he can play, averaging 23.7 points on 68.6 percent shooting from the field and 53.8 percent shooting from 3-point range along with 9.3 rebounds, 2.0 blocks and 2.0 steals all while having to deal with LeBron James on both ends of the floor.
If he can see an increase in the 29.1 minutes a game he averaged last season, there is no reason to expect All-Star caliber numbers from Leonard this season.
30. Tayshaun Prince– Memphis Grizzlies
Memphis keeps Prince in the starting lineup simply because his length can give the opposition some problems on the defensive end. His game just doesn’t translate into any fantasy production. Despite starting in each of his 76 appearances, Prince failed to register a single double-double, scored over 15 points on just three occasions, dished out five assists just once, stole the ball three times in just a single contest and saw his long range shooting accuracy dissipate, as he converted just 29 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.
29. Hollis Thompson– Philadelphia 76ers
As Thompson was preparing for his junior year at Georgetown, he knew the key to success at the professional level would be a potent 3-point shot. During his junior season, Thompson launched 135 attempts from beyond the arc, just 20 fewer than he attempted during his first two seasons in college. The tactic worked, as he proved to be one of the few viable long range shooting options on the 76ers during his rookie season, converting 40.1 percent of his attempts and making 67 shots on the perimeter. In an expanded role this season, the 6-foot-8 forward is hoping to round out the rest of his game.
28. Chris Copeland– Indiana Pacers
After going undrafted in 2006, Copeland had to continue his hopes of becoming a professional by playing overseas, spending over six years playing in Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium before receiving an opportunity with the Knicks at two years ago at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. Now Copeland faces the thankless task of filling in for Paul George as he recovers from the gruesome injury he suffered while scrimmaging for Team USA. Copeland has started just 13 times in his NBA career and will have to develop into a decent defender to remain in the rotation for Indiana.
27. Matt Barnes– Los Angeles Clippers
Once Barnes beat took over for Jared Dudley as the starting small forward, he excelled, averaging 11.6 points and shot 35.8 percent from 3-point range while tallying 4.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.0 steals a game. This summer, the Clippers dealt Dudley away to Milwaukee, freeing up minutes for Barnes in the league’s most explosive offense and the team is hoping for more performances like the one he submitted against the Lakers in early March, when finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three steals in 30 minutes.
26. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist– Charlotte Hornets
Charlotte is still trying to figure out a way to fix the ugliest jump shot in the league. When the Hornets selected Kidd-Gilchrist with the second overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the plan was to let him slowly improve his jump shot while letting his defensive prowess keep him on the floor. Instead, Kidd-Gilchrist simply refuses to shoot away from the rim, as he has attempted just 18 shots from 3-point range over the past two years and has made just 29.7 percent of his spot up jump shots and 27.8 percent of his catch-and-shoot chances.
25. Andrei Kirilenko– Brooklyn Nets
All Kirilenko is searching for under his new coach, Lionel Hollins, is just some consistency. Throughout his first season in Brooklyn, the former All-Star saw his time on the floor constantly fluctuate, resulting him in playing just 19 minutes a night, by far the fewest of his 12-year career. The inconsistency in his playing time was reflected perfectly in the post season, as his time on the floor went as follows: 0, 20, 17, 15, 4, 14, 3, 13, 0, 19, 15 and 26 minutes.
24. Mike Dunleavy– Chicago Bulls
It remains to be seen just how long Dunleavy will remain in the starting lineup with rookie sensation Doug McDermott pushing for minutes and gave Nikola Mirotic $600,000 to buy out his contract from Real Madrid then signed him to a three-year $18 million deal to finally join the team after being selected with the 23rd pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Dunleavy played in all 82 games for Chicago last season, starting 61 times and averaged 11.3 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.
23. Maurice Harkless– Orlando Magic
At the last minute, Harkless declined an option to play for Puerto Rico at the 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball in order to prepare for the upcoming regular season by spending much of his time at the IMG Academy in Bradenton hoping to refine his game. The former St. John’s star regressed during his sophomore year, as his scoring, rebounding, block and minutes all decreased, while his turnovers climbed. Harkless and Tobias Harris should split a majority of time at the small forward position.
22. Corey Brewer– Minnesota Timberwolves
Brewer wins the award for the strangest nickname on Basketball Reference as the site dubbed him the Drunken Dribbler. As strange as his nickname was, his performance last season always remained interesting. Against Houston, Brewer exploded for 51 points as he converted 19 shots from the field and earned 15 trips to the foul line. The 28-year-old finished seventh in the league in steals, swiping the ball away 1.8 times a game, finishing with four or more steals in 13 games a year ago.
21. Nick Young– Los Angeles Lakers
Not to be outdone in the strange nickname department, Young is insisting the rookies in Los Angeles refer to him as “Daddy Swag” for the rest of the year. Young was one of the few bright spots for the Lakers last season, averaging a career-high 17.9 points and knocking down 135 shots from 3-point range. The return of Kobe Bryant will likely diminish his scoring output and Young is really only an option for fantasy owners in need of a scoring punch.
20. Danilo Gallinari– Denver Nuggets
Gallinari missed the entirety of his sixth season in the NBA recovering from a torn ACL after originally planning a return for late November. Instead of immediately undergoing reconstructive surgery, the 6-foot-10 forward had the ligament repaired, a move that was supposed to accelerate his return to the floor. Instead, at the beginning of 2014, Gallinari underwent a full reconstruction and has begun practicing in Milan. The Nuggets are hoping he can post the 16.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists he averaged before suffering the injury.
19. Paul Pierce– Washington Wizards
The move to add Pierce immediately improves the Wizards roster while the two years left on his deal keeps the payroll down enough to pursue Kevin Durant when he becomes a free agent in 2016. Pierce didn’t last season with the Nets until he was shifted into a power forward role, something unlikely to happen for extended stretches in Washington. With a talented back court in place, the Wizards are hoping Pierce can camp out behind the 3-point arc and hope he can punish teams any time they try and crowd the paint.
18. P.J. Tucker– Phoenix Suns
Tucker lasted just 17 games in Toronto after being selected with the 35th overall pick of the 2006 NBA Draft and didn’t find a place back into the league until five years later, following stints in Israel, Ukraine, Greece, Italy and Germany. In 81 starts for the Suns last season, Tucker provided a little bit of everything, as he averaged 9.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.4 steals and 38.7 percent shooting from 3-point range. Fantasy owners will have to wait until the second week of the season before he makes any contributions as he will miss the first three games serving a suspension for drunken driving.
17. DeMarre Carroll– Atlanta Hawks
Carroll seemed to be on his way out of the NBA following unsuccessful stints in Memphis, Houston, Denver and Utah over the course of his first four seasons of his career until he seized his opportunity with the Hawks. The former Missouri star easily set career highs in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and minutes played. Carroll finished with 108 steals, the same amount as Kyrie Irving, posting 17 games with at least three steals.
16. Luol Deng– Miami Heat
After comments made by Atlanta’s general manager made national news, Deng is looking to just restart his career in Miami as the replacement for a two-time NBA Finals MVP at the small forward position. Deng essentially signed the same contract he rejected from Chicago to join the Heat, but is hoping the fresh start can revitalize his career following a down year. The Bulls unexpected dealt the two-time All-Star to Chicago at the trade deadline and his struggles in Cleveland, as he averaged just 14.3 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.1 assists took away much of his negotiating power in free agency.
15. Andre Iguodala– Golden State Warriors
The Warriors were hoping the addition of Iguodala last summer would turn the team into a legitimate title contender. While Iguodala delivered, becoming the second player in franchise history to ever be named to the All-Defensive First Team. As he enters his second season in Golden State, the gold medal winner at the 2012 Olympics in London is hoping to ingrain himself in the offense after posting just 9.3 points per game, his lowest average since his debut season a decade ago.
14. Trevor Ariza– Houston Rockets
Houston is hoping Ariza’s second stint with the team is much more successful than his first one. The Rockets signed the former Arizona star five years ago as a free agent hoping he would provide excellent wing defense and reliable 3-point shooting following a title run with the Lakers. One year later, the Rockets shipped him off in a four-team deal seeking more productivity. Last season, Ariza reemerged as a potent small forward, helping the Wizards make an unexpected playoff run by averaging 14.6 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.7 steals a game, enough to convince Houston to sign him to a four-year $32 million deal in free agency.
13. Jabari Parker– Milwaukee Bucks
The second overall selection of the 2014 NBA Draft saved his finest performance for the final game of Summer League play in Las Vegas. Against Golden State, Parker posted 20 points and 15 rebounds to help the Bucks avoid getting swept in tournament play. Last season Milwaukee finished with the fewest wins in the league and lacked a primary scoring option, something it hopes the reigning NCAA Freshman of the Year can resolve. Parker is expected to contend for Rookie of the Year honors and should see plenty of scoring opportunities next season.
12. Josh Smith– Detroit Pistons
The inaugural season of Smith in Detroit was marred by his instance on standing behind the 3-point arc and launching shots instead of getting into the paint and using his athleticism to his advantage. Smith hoisted 265 shots from 3-point range, 64 more than any of his previous nine seasons in the league, even though he converted just 26.4 percent of those shots. The result was his shooting average slipping to 41.9 percent as he averaged 16.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 1.4 steals each night.
11. Tyreke Evans– New Orleans Pelicans
Evans was originally acquired by the Pelicans to strengthen their bench, but the 2010 NBA Rookie of the Year struggled to adapt to his new role. An injury to point guard Jrue Holiday opened minutes in lineup and Evans dominated, averaging 19.9 points, 6.3 assists, 5.3 rebounds and 1.4 steals when in the starting lineup. After resisting a move to small forward in Sacramento, part of the reason why he was dealt to the Pelicans, Evans has been receptive to moving into a new position.
10. Jeff Green– Boston Celtics
Last season Green became the primary scoring option in Boston, posting 22 games with at least 20 points, but he lacked consistency. The former Georgetown standout scored 20 points in consecutive games on just four occasions while he struggled to make an impact rebounding the ball, averaging 4.6 per game despite his 6-foot-9 frame. As the Celtics continue rebuilding their franchise, Green will be counted on to score the ball as the team around him develops.
9. Gordon Hayward– Utah Jazz
Even after being among the final cuts for Team USA this summer, few players had a more successful summer than Hayward. After the Hornets offered him a four-year $63 million contract, the Jazz matched. Once Hayward joined the rest of the players competing for a roster spot for America at the 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball, Hayward showed off the 10 pounds of muscle he added in the off-season. The 24-year-old is coming off a season where he posted career-highs with 16.2 points, 5.2 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game.
8. Rudy Gay– Sacramento Kings
A fractured jaw wasn’t enough to keep Gay on the bench as the United States defeated Serbia in the gold medal game at the 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball. As the 28-year-old prepares to play his first full season with the Kings, he nearly erased all of the criticism of his game in his first 55 games in Sacramento. Once he was dealt away from Toronto, Gay shot 48.2 percent from the field, the highest of his eight-year career while posting 20.1 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.2 steals.
7. Chandler Parsons– Dallas Mavericks
Following his signing with the Mavericks, Parsons’ former teammates in Houston dubbed him as just another role player. Dallas seems him as something more, offering him a three-year $46 million contract after he posted 16.6 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.2 steals per game. The massive pay raise, after the former Florida star was scheduled to make $960,000 next season comes with the added pressure of proving his former Rockets teammates wrong while helping the Mavericks pursue another title.
6. DeMar DeRozan– Toronto Raptors
In his fifth season with Toronto, DeRozan became the player the team envisioned when it signed him to a four-year $40 million deal, a contract heavily scrutinized two years ago. Any concerns were put to rest last season as DeRozan was selected to the Eastern Conference All-Star team, averaged 22.7 points, 4.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.1 steals per game. His performance was enough to earn him a roster spot on Team USA and he helped deliver a gold medal by morphing into a defensive specialist on the team.
5. Kawhi Leonard– San Antonio Spurs
Instead of parading around during his three day stint with the Larry O’Brien trophy, Leonard kept the trophy on a shelf at his apartment for two days so he could keep up his off-season workout regimen defending it. The dedication to his craft could have repercussions around the league, as the reigning Finals MVP didn’t even receive an invitation to try out for Team USA even after numerous forwards declined the opportunity this summer. Leonard’s complete and efficient play in San Antonio should finally translate into fantasy success this year.
4. Nicolas Batum– Portland Trail Blazers
France still managed to pull the upset of the summer, ousting Spain, the host country of the 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball even as Batum had a rare off game. The slum was quickly snapped the following contest against Serbia, as Batum scored 35 points and knocked down eight shots from 3-point range. The 25-year-old has one of the most complete skill sets in the league as he posted 13 points, 7.5 rebounds, 5.1 assists and shot 36 percent from 3-point range.
3. Carmelo Anthony– New York Knicks
As the rest of the team crumbled around him, Anthony proved he can be more that just a potent scorer in New York. The injury depleted Knicks needed someone to rebound with consistency and Anthony delivered, posting a career-high 8.1 per game, with 6.2 coming on the defensive end alone, nearly what he has averaged total per game during his 11-year career. While Anthony crashed the boards, he didn’t sacrifice his scoring obligations, averaging 27.4 points per game and pouring in over 2.000 total points for just the second time in his career.
2. LeBron James– Cleveland Cavaliers
All of the business of the NBA was at a standstill this summer as James weighed his options in free agency. The four-time MVP returned to Cleveland and hoping to bring the city its first title in half a century. No player is better equipped for the challenge than James as he not only continues to produce Hall-of-Fame caliber numbers, he has managed to increase his efficiency. The 29-year-old converted 56.7 percent of his attempts from the field, the fourth highest percentage in the NBA while he hoisted 297 more 3-point field goals than the three players that finished with a higher percentage than him.
1. Kevin Durant– Oklahoma City Thunder
The regular season MVP led the league in field goal attempts, field goal makes, free throw attempts, free throw conversions, minutes played and total points scored, pouring in 471 more points than his nearest competitor. Durant’s remarkable efficiency, as he is shooting 47.9 percent from the field, 37.7 percent from 3-point range and 88.2 percent at the foul line for his seven-year career makes him the undisputed first overall pick for the 2014-15 fantasy basketball season.