One of the most dominant two way players in the NBA, Kawhi Leonard is a cerebral and athletic asset that lets his electric performances do the talking. Even as a college athlete, Leonard established an impressive work ethic and was the catalyst for the San Diego State Aztecs in making it to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA College Basketball Tournament in 2011. Despite Leonard’s versatile abilities, it has only been within the last couple of years that he has finally received the much deserved recognition as being one of the best players in the NBA. Given Leonard’s intriguing skill set and contributions as the leader of the San Antonio Spurs, it begs the question of how much is the beloved small forward actually worth?
Kawhi Leonard’s Net Worth as of 2017: $35.6 Million
How did the reserved superstar get there? And how have his essential contributions garnered him this type of wealth? Let’s take a closer look.
2011 – 2014
Although Leonard was initially drafted by the Indiana Pacers with the 15th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, his rights were ultimately traded to the Spurs for point guard George Hill. While Leonard was not the flashiest player statistically during his rookie season, he proved to be an intelligent and strategically aggressive talent. Despite scoring only 7.9 point per game his rookie year, Leonard made all of his shots count as he had an impressive field goal percentage of 49.3%. However, Leonard was a natural as a tenacious defender as he averaged 1.3 steals per game as well.
In just his second year in the NBA, Leonard and the San Antonio Spurs advanced to the NBA Finals. Although the Spurs eventually lost to the Miami Heat in a contentious seven game series, Leonard put the NBA on notice as he averaged a double-double (14.6 points, 11.1 rebounds) during the series.
During his third season in the NBA, Leonard finally asserted himself as one of the most intriguing two player players in the NBA. He became more aggressive and accurate as a shooter (12.8 PPG, 52.2% FG% throughout regular season) while honing his already exceptional defensive skills (1.7 steals per game). Leonard was rewarded for his defensive prowess when he was named to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team for the first time. Once again, the San Antonio Spurs made it to the NBA Finals and were prepared for redemption when they encountered the Heat again. This time, the Spurs dominated the Heat in five games, with Leonard having one of his best offensive stretches of his career. During the series, Kawhi averaged 17.8 points on 61% shooting, which galvanized his teammates to ultimately win the series. Kawhi was named the NBA Finals MVP and was the third youngest player to win the award at 22 years old.
Coming off a championship season, Leonard continued to develop as one of the distinguished young superstars in the NBA. While Leonard took another decisive step forward offensively, his emergence as the best defensive player in the league proved to be his crowning achievement. Averaging 2.3 steals and 7.2 rebounds per game (both career highs), Leonard left little doubt of his consistent defensive prowess. By the end of the season, Leonard was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year. He joined the elite company of Michael Jordan and Hakeem Olajuwon as the only players to win both the NBA Defensive Player of the Year and NBA Finals MVP awards.
Kawhi Leonard reportedly earned $2.8 million from 2014-2015.
2015 – Present
Given Leonard’s dominant presence on the court, the Spurs didn’t waste much time in the off season when they signed the consummate athlete to a five-year, $90 million contract in 2015. Leonard’s elevated wealth did not deter him from continuing to be an essential component of the Spurs. He was named to his first All-Star game as a starter and led the Spurs to their highest win total in the regular season (67 wins). Leonard once again earned Defensive Player of the Year honors (second non-center to win award in back-to-back seasons) and finished second to Stephen Curry as a MVP candidate.
Given what Leonard had accomplished over the last two seasons defensively, 2016 was the year where Leonard asserted himself as a serious offensive threat. Averaging 25.5 point per game, Leonard’s confidence in his developed versatility finally exploded onto the NBA scene. He helped the Spurs tremendously during a 20-game win streak in the middle of the season with his dominance as a locked in scorer and rebounder. Thus far in the NBA Playoffs, Leonard has been the catalyst for his team winning consistently. Unfortunately, Leonard re-aggravated an ankle injury in Game 1 in the Conference Finals series against the Golden State Warriors. If the Spurs hope to get back into the series, they will need a healthy Leonard to give them a chance.
While it’s easy to crown Lebron James as the best player in the NBA, and rightfully so, there is something to be said for what Leonard has done for the game of basketball. His reserved demeanor and insatiable desire to help his team win has been a breath of fresh air considering how other NBA players conduct themselves on and off the court. As a result, Leonard may never get the glowing praise or recognition that he deserves because of his introverted nature. However, Leonard doesn’t have the self-centered disposition that would lend itself to him being spiteful because of this supposed disrespect. Rather, Leonard let’s his performances on the court dictate the type of player and person that he truly is.
Leonard reportedly earned $17.6 million from 2016-2017.