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Alvin Gentry heaps the highest of praise — an MJ comparison — on Kawhi Leonard

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Lakers

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 26: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs drives to the basket as he gets past Brandon Ingram #14 of the Los Angeles Lakers in the second half of the game at Staples Center on February 26, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. Spurs won 119-98. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

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If the vote took place today, Kawhi Leonard would likely finish third in the NBA MVP voting, behind Russell Westbrook and James Harden (in some order).

Maybe that changes in a week. Monday night the Spurs take on the Rockets and Harden, Thursday night it’s Westbrook and the Thunder. A couple of big games and...

Don’t expect Leonard to promote himself. Don’t expect Gregg Popovich to try to bring more attention to his team. There is not going to be a traditional campaign out of San Antonio to get Leonard the award.

But other coaches are doing it for him. Here is what Alvin Gentry said, via the San Antonio Express-News.

“You don’t want to say Michael Jordan,” New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry said, “but it is that type of situation where you have a really, really good offensive player and a tremendous defensive player.

“He definitely has to be heavily in the conversation for MVP.”


Leonard’s campaign hinges on that two-way status. Make no mistake, he’s developed into an elite offensive player averaging 26.1 points and six boards a game, shooting 37.9 percent from three, and he’s now the focal point of the Spurs offense. However, he’s never going to put up Harden/Westbrook numbers — the difference is Leonard is a much better defender than either of them. That’s the pitch. That and the Spurs have a better record than the Rockets or the Thunder.

That may not be enough to get him the award this season, but he is in the conversation. As he has earned the right to be.