LAS VEGAS NV - FEBRUARY 12: Kawhi Leonard #15 of the San Diego State Aztecs waits for a teammate to shoot a free throw during their game against the UNLV Rebels at the Thomas & Mack Center February 12 2011 in Las Vegas Nevada. San Diego State won 63-57. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, D.C. - I got a chance to head down to the Verizon Center today to watch Kawhi Leonard work out for the Washington Wizards. We only got a chance to see the tail end of the workout, so I can't tell you everything. Here's some video the Wizards recorded of a lot of the parts
that the media didn't get to see (edit: this was all stuff media saw - my memory sucks).
Overall, I was impressed with the way Leonard's shot looked. Again, the caveat here is that we're talking about a small sample size, but Leonard was hitting many of his practice jumpers in both fast-break shooting drills and half-court drills where you're asked to hit seven foul-line jumpers. He hit four fast-break mid-range jumpers in a row, minutes after Flip Saunders joked that nobody in the group was doing it. He also did quite well in the foul-line drill. I really liked the way his shooting stroke looked - he jumped straight up, had great balance, took his shots at the highest point and did a really good job with his follow-through. The only thing is we didn't get to see him shooting three-pointers, which is the shot he absolutely has to master in this league.
The only other issue is that he was visibly exhausted at several points. After the fast-break shooting drill, he was crouching over with his hands on his knees and pacing around at different points to catch his breath. For what it's worth, this is only his second individual workout with a team (he was in Charlotte on Sunday), and Saunders is notorious for working players hard in his workouts. Leonard is hardly the only guy who has been visibly exhausted Saunders was through with him. We already noted how Jordan Hamilton was even more gassed than Leonard.
More below the jump:
- Leonard said this was "the hardest workout" he's had. He also said he has six more to go, so it's still early.
- Leonard specifically mentioned how he needed to work on his "catch-and-shoot from the three." I really liked some of the answers he had about shooting in general, and I liked how he was very specific with the kind of shot he needs to develop.
- Here's how he described that specific shot: " I'm just really working on, when the point guard's coming off the screen, when he penetrates and kicks out to me, I have to knock down that shot. Also, in transition. Or, if a guy is playing off me, jabbing him off and then lifting up and raising for the three and hitting it consistently." Again, I like how specific he's being there, and while I need to see more results, it's made me feel better about him.
- Leonard said that, specifically, he's working on making sure he holds his follow-through and gets good arc on his shot. Well, that and repetition and confidence, but those aren't things unique to him.
- I asked him what kinds of shooting drills he does. Here, he said he works on everything (" One-dribble pull-ups, two-dribble pull-ups, curls, coming off some screens, pick and pop. I'm just doing it all"). He said he didn't have a specific number of shots he aims to make in a given day, saying it depends on the drills.
- Finally, I asked him the key to being a good spot-up shooter: "I think it's just repetition and practicing it every day. Playing some three-on-three, and just emphasizing staying out on the wing and being ready for that kick-out shot that they give to you. When you're open, knock it down with confidence."