Kawhi sees rebounding, defensive role model in Rodman

Some scouts see a link between new Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard and Hall of Fame forward (and former Spur) Dennis Rodman in terms of their work ethic, rebounding and defensive determination.

Leonard was described as the top defensive prospect at forward in the NBA Draft.

The former San Diego State standout doesn’t back away from those who might detect similarities in their games.

“I think that’s a good comparison,” Leonard said. “I try to go after every rebound like Dennis Rodman did. Some  nights he would come down with 20 rebounds. I had a night when I had 20 rebounds. It just shows how much passion we have on the defensive end how much energy we bring to the team.”

Like Rodman early in his career, Leonard is known for his fierce determination on the court. He’s also considered more of a physical player as he’s nearly 20 pounds heavier than Rodman during his NBA career.

“I’m just going to bring my hard work,” Leonard said. “Whatever Coach Pop wants me to do, I’m going to do. If it’s rebounding, that’s one of my strengths. Defense. Anything he wants me to do, I’m ready to do.”

The knock against Leonard — like Rodman during his NBA career — is a raw offensive game.

Developing his offense is one of Leonard’s major aims before the start of his first NBA training camp.

“I can dribble and get to the hole easily,” Leonard said. “I have a mid-range  shot. I just need to work on my 3-point shot, catch and shoot and pulling up in transition.”

Despite some of the negative scouting reports about Leonard’s offensive development, Spurs general manager R.C. Buford said the Spurs’ organization has detected some strengths that sometimes go unnoticed.

“From our perspective we think he’s an underrated passer,” Buford said. “And he’s really a good facilitator within the offense.”

The Spurs could live with Leonard developing into a Rodman-type of player — if he steers clear of some of the off-the-court incidents that checkered Rodman’s career.

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