Kawhi Leonard Finishes 4th in Rookie of the Year Voting

The Pacers could have drafted Kawhi Leonard. In fact, the did. But they didn’t draft him to keep—they picked him for the Spurs and immediately shipped him off to San Antonio, where he played well enough to come in fourth in this season’s Rookie of the Year Award voting. He started 39 games for Gregg Popovich, scoring 7.9 points per game while grabbing 5.1 rebounds and playing excellent defense. The highlight of his NBA career came in Game 2 of the Spurs’ first-round sweep of the Jazz when Kawhi scored 17 points on just 7 shots.

The Pacers didn’t really miss out, however. In return, they got George Hill, their starting point guard for the final month of the season.

It seems to be one of those deals that worked out perfectly for both teams. The Spurs needed young talent with high upside to replace their aging core. The Pacers, at the time over-stocked with wing players, badly needed help in the backcourt. As Indiana tries to beat the Heat and advance to the Conference Finals and the Spurs try to do the same by beating the Clippers out West, I don’t think either franchise would even consider a do-over if given the opportunity. The issue becomes a little more complicated in the sense that Hill becomes a restricted free agent this summer and could walk away while the team gets nothing in turn, but I believe most people — those in the Pacers’ front office included — expect George, a native Hoosier, to stick around in Indiana.

Here are the full voting results, via Sporting News.

  • Travis

    who the hell gave Josh Selby a vote?

  • Chris D.

    If Leonard had played for a non-playoff calibur team, he would have been a real contender for ROTY, but, instead, all the credit for the Spurs’ resurgence went to the coach for some reason. Anyhow, I still argue that Leonard would have been a better long-term option for the Pacers. Sure, Hill will never be viewed as a bad pickup, but when Leonard reaches the same point in his career, he will be much better than Hill. You should always take the best player when you can.

  • NoLookPass

    No love for Kemba Walker or MarShon Brooks at all

  • poot

    Chris D –>
    you’re really grasping at straws here aren’t you?

    ok maybe long term Leonard would be better than Hill
    but I’d rather have Faried (picked 7 spots later) since we get to re-write history. then we could have drafted Lawson instead of Hansbro, and still had enough left over to sign West and trade McRoberts for OJ Mayo and trade for Barbosa.

    but since we live on earth, nobody knew Leonard would be this good this fast, but he’s still not better than Hill. He does a nice job at fitting in, for a rookie, but clearly he benefits from playing next to/for 4 HOFers. I wonder what PG would look like if he played next to Duncan/Manu/Parker for Pop instead of next to West/Granger/Collison for Vogel. actually that’s a scary thought.

    and to your point, Hill is a RFA this summer, Leonard is locked up for 2 more seasons after this one. SO if the Pacers have any chance of making a splash in free agency this offseason, it will help having that extra space off the books (even if only to re-sign him as a luxury tax player)