USA Basketball will be without the NBA’s best two-way player when they travel down to Rio for the 2016 Olympics. The Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard announced that he would not be participating with Team USA, according to Jeff Goodman of ESPN.
“This was a very difficult decision. It’s an honor to have been considered for the team and I hope that in the future I will have the chance to represent my country by playing for USA Basketball,” Leonard said in a statement published by the Spurs on Twitter; short and sweet, typical Kawhi fashion.
In this past year with San Antonio, Leonard emerged as the next franchise player and one of the best five players in the association. His offense became more refined, and career-highs were set with 21.2 points, 2.6 assists, and 1.0 blocks while making his first All-Star team, finishing as the MVP runner-up, and capturing his second straight Defensive Player of the Year award. A three-point shot was also added by Leonard that made him almost unguardable on offense, and he banged home 129 threes at a clip of 44 percent, second to Stephen Curry and J.J. Redick. He got to the free throw line more, 334 attempts, and finished just three percentage points from the 50/40/90 club.
As usual, he was the league’s best perimeter defender. With a defensive rating per 100 possessions of 96, Leonard was third best in the NBA and the first player 6-7 or shorter to have a DRtg that low since Malik Rose and Manu Ginobili in 2004, per Basketball-Reference.