Kawhi Leonard has got next

Brady McGee, Reporter

Summary of the Western Conference Playoffs: Sweep. Sweep. Sweep.

The Golden State Warriors have dismantled the Western Conference, put it back together, and then dismantled it again. Not a single hiccup throughout. LeBron was even immune to a loss at home to a Celtics team without their overrated star point guard.

The Warriors did show cracks in the system when they were trailing the Spurs by 18 in the third of game one of the Western Conference finals. The reason this seemingly unstoppable team was being stopped? Kawhi Leonard.

One of the three finalists for the MVP which will be announced in June, Leonard might be seen as the dark horse candidate compared to the other front-runners Russell Westbrook and James Harden. Both point guards are having historic years but Kawhi and the Spurs were the only threat to the Warriors hopes of three straight finals appearances. That is, until Zaza Pachulia closed out on a Kawhi jump shot awfully close to his landing space leading to Leonard landing on his foot and tweaking his ankle.

The ankle already was a problem for Leonard earlier in the playoffs and that was the second time he aggravated it in that game. He wouldn’t see the court for the rest of the series, the Warriors overcame the second half deficit and would win the series in four.

So what’s next for the Spurs? Manu Ginobili may have just played his last game. Tony Parker’s health becomes a bigger question as he ages and Lamarcus Aldridge wasn’t quite the player San Antonio thought he was. The only certainty is that Kawhi Leonard will be back and most likely very angry.

You won’t see it on his face, but that’s because he never has any emotion. Kawhi will do his talking on the court. He has improved every year since becoming the focus of the Spurs franchise and with next year being his second year without Tim Duncan, it’s time for him to rocket himself into the space few players occupy. LeBron is there, even without a ring Kevin Durant is there, and I think Kawhi is next. All are complete players who I personally think are the best in the league.

Guys like Russ, Curry, and Harden may have great years, even record-breaking years, but Kawhi will quietly dominate the league for years to come as LeBron passes him the mantle.

The next step for Kawhi is to become a leader. He’s never seemed like the most vocal, but if anyone can turn a player into a leader, it’s Gregg Popovich who had three of the best leaders on one team for over a decade in Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili.

Consensus around the league is that the Warriors will make the Finals for the next five or so years but I wouldn’t count out the Spurs as Kawhi comes back hungry for revenge next year.