Suns Passed On Kawhi Leonard in NBA Draft For One Reason



Through his first six years in the league, Kawhi Leonard has developed into a star player in the NBA. He has truly taken off this season with his best individual campaign. According to the Arizona Republic, the Phoenix Suns passed on him in the 2011 NBA Draft because of a nervous interview.

Yeah, about that Leonard pick in 2011. …

Leonard did not work out for the Suns, who were picking 13th. He was clearly a defensive standout but the San Diego State power forward needed to become an NBA small forward at 6 feet 7. His jump shot was suspect but his work ethic was not. His college coach, Steve Fisher, told NBA staff that Leonard would not be satisfied by money.

There seems like there would have been much to discuss about Leonard. A gaze at his 7-3 wingspan and hands as long as men’s size 7½ shoes would be an adequate prompt.

This is when it would be convenient to say the Suns did not pick Leonard because of an overabundance of rotation small forwards on the roster — Grant Hill, Jared Dudley and Josh Childress. …

But with a front office conducting its first draft in Phoenix, then-General Manager Lance Blanks’ staff did not have Leonard in the discussion. Part of the Suns’ knock on Leonard, beyond his perimeter shot, was how nervously he acted in a draft combine interview, when he sweated through his suit.

This seems like quite a ridiculous reason not to select a player based off nerves in an interview. He was a quiet player that showed massive potential with his play on the court rather than off of it. The fact that the Suns viewed his nervousness in an interview as a knock on him is head shaking.

Remember, the Indiana Pacers also passed on him by trading the pick to the San Antonio Spurs. Ultimately, the Spurs saw the potential that Leonard had on the court to become a star player. It has worked out tremendously in their favor and will for the years to come.

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