#CrystalBasketball: Ranking the San Antonio Spurs for 2017-18

How does every NBA player stack up heading into 2017-18, based solely on the level at which we expect them to play during the upcoming season?

That’s the question 16 NBA Math staff members and contributors sought to answer, ranking each and every player in the sport’s premier league on a 1-to-12 scale and then seeing who emerged with the highest averages. The distant past was irrelevant. Long-term potential doesn’t matter. Only what could come to pass in 2017-18 is factored in, assuming health for those currently healthy and full recoveries from those presently injured. For example, Brandon Knight will still be included in this analysis; we just assumed he’d already completed his rehab for the torn ACL and now has that as a prior portion of his overall injury history.

All players were graded on the following scale by each evaluator, and ties between players with identical averages were broken by sorting the 16 scores from best to worst and propping up the men who had the highest mark at any point in the top-down progression:

  1. Shouldn’t Get Minutes
  2. End-of-Bench Pieces
  3. Depth Pieces
  4. High-End Backups
  5. Low-End Starters
  6. Solid Starters
  7. High-End Starters, Non-All-Stars
  8. All-Star Candidates
  9. All-NBA Candidates, Non-MVP Candidates
  10. Lesser MVP Candidates
  11. MVP Frontrunners
  12. Best Player in the League (only one player could earn this grade on each ballot)

Journey with us team by team as we unveil the entirety of these rankings, culminating in a look at every player set to suit up for the 2017-18 campaign.

Today’s featured squad? The San Antonio Spurs, who are trying to win at least 50 games for the 713th consecutive season.

19. Amida Brimah: 1.00

  • Age at start of 2017-18: 23
  • Position: C
  • 2016-17 Stats: 7.6 points, 6.1 rebounds, 0.2 assists, 0.2 steals, 2.6 blocks, 65.21 TPA (for Connecticut Huskies)
  • Unanimous Grade: 1

If you’re expecting anything on the scoring side from Amida Brimah—aside from easy finishes around the basket after he grabs a rebound or the defense neglects to cover him on cuts and rolls—you’ll be let down. The 23-year-old center was an atrocious passer throughout his collegiate career and filled a negligible offensive role that failed to showcase any tangible signs of improvement from start to finish.

He is, however, a defensive plus.

With long arms and enough lateral mobility to monitor areas that aren’t directly around the basket or covered in paint, Brimah should be able to hold his own as a shot-blocker and—even more importantly—a shot-deterrer. Whether he can add enough value there to cover up for his other flaws remains to be seen.

18. Matt Costello: 1.31

  • Age at start of 2017-18: 24
  • Position: PF/C
  • 2016-17 Stats: 9.5 points, 10.2 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.7 blocks (for Iowa Energy)
  • Highest Grade: 2 (multiple voters)
  • Lowest Grade: 1 (multiple voters)

Though we’re only working with a 23-game sample, Matt Costello’s time with the Iowa Energy made clear exactly what type of role the former Michigan State standout would be filling at the NBA level. He’s never going to be a playmaker out of the frontcourt or post gaudy point totals. Though he took a surprising number of triples, he failed to assert himself as a stretchy big by hitting at an 18.4 percent clip.

But Costello is a rebounding stud, capable of cleaning the glass on both ends of the floor. Averaging 4.9 offensive boards and 9.5 defensive rebounds per 36 minutes is no easy feat, even while playing against lesser competition in the G League. Costello displays the motor and fundamentals necessary to compete for every opportunity on either side of the floor, and he seems genuinely pleased to be doing the dirty work on the interior.

17. London Perrantes: 1.40

  • Age at start of 2017-18: 23
  • Position: PG
  • 2016-17 Stats: 12.7 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.1 blocks, 135.33 TPA (for Virginia Cavaliers)
  • Highest Grade: 2 (multiple voters)
  • Lowest Grade: 1 (multiple voters)

As Jeremy Woo wrote for Sports Illustrated early in the offseason, London Perrantes has the profile of a prospect who could emerge as a gem:

With a breakout performance at Portsmouth, where he led the tourney with 8.7 assists per game, Perrantes effectively kicked off his campaign to be taken seriously at the next level after an extremely solid career at UVA. He’s not especially tall or long and measures in a hair under 6’2”, but his biggest selling point is his all-around acuity, which points to sneaky role player potential. Perrantes can point to the small but tangible roles Ron Baker and Fred Van Vleet played as undrafted rookies, and hope to follow a similar route to becoming a contributor.

Perrantes played in Virginia’s relatively rigid system for four years, so the PIT performance was a good first step as he re-proves himself in other environments. His NBA niche rests on his ability to defend, take care of the ball and make threes, and he’ll need all three things to translate. Efficiency-wise he really struggled situationally off screens, per Synergy, but did well in spot-up and pick and roll situations. Some of that may have had to do with increased volume after Malcolm Brogdon’s departure. Whatever the case, Perrantes has a chance to break camp somewhere with his intangibles, experience and solid array of potential strengths.

That said, Perrantes might not have found a home during the draft, and the Spurs giving him a shot doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed to stick. For that to happen, he needs to shoot the ball far better than he did at summer league, where he slashed just 39.2/26.1/86.4 over the course of six appearances.

16. Brandon Paul: 1.56

  • Age at start of 2017-18: 26
  • Position: SG
  • 2016-17 Stats: 9.5 points, 1.5 rebounds, 0.6 assists, 1.1 steals, 0.2 blocks (for Anadolu Efes)
  • Highest Grade: 3 (Dan Favale)
  • Lowest Grade: 1 (multiple voters)

Brandon Paul will be wearing a Spurs uniform so that he can become a three-and-D contributor. He won’t be asked to do anything more than fill those two roles (spot-up triples and perimeter defense), and doing anything less would quickly leave him glued to the bench and watching the other talented players on the roster go to work in his stead.

Right now, the “three” will be tougher than the “D,” based on this guard’s willingness to sacrifice his body and the athletic tools that enable him to stick with plenty of various assignments. But both elements look feasible.

Paul shot 39.1 percent from beyond the arc in summer league, and that comes on the heels of a campaign with Anadolu Efes in which he drilled 40.6 percent of his deep attempts. Transitioning to the NBA will be a tough task, but the skills are there, and he has a chance to use that Gregg Popovich tutelage to justify the thoughts of our lone voter who pegged him as a legitimate depth piece.

15. Darrun Hilliard: 1.60

  • Age at start of 2017-18: 24
  • Position: SG
  • 2016-17 Stats: 3.3 points, 0.8 rebounds, 0.8 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.1 blocks, minus-45.99 TPA (for Detroit Pistons)
  • Highest Grade: 2 (multiple voters)
  • Lowest Grade: 1 (multiple voters)

Judging Darrun Hilliard for his work in 2016-17 is a tough task, since an offseason stress fracture in his lower back prevented him from growing during exhibition season and put him behind the eight ball before his sophomore campaign began with the Detroit Pistons. He never carved out a legitimate role under head coach Stan Van Gundy, failing to play even 20 minutes in all but two of his appearances.

Hillard, still just 24 years old, has plenty of scoring potential, and he should put it on display if he’s ever granted enough run to work up a legitimate rhythm. But to hold onto his spot, he’ll have to prove his three-point stroke can become consistent while he asserts himself more frequently on the defensive end. He’s been far too porous during his two-year NBA career, and changing that is the only way to move past a contract descriptor that also begins with “two-.”

14. Derrick White: 2.31

  • Age at start of 2017-18: 23
  • Position: PG
  • 2016-17 Stats: 18.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.4 blocks, 227.16 TPA (for Colorado Buffaloes)
  • Highest Grade: 4 (Dan Favale)
  • Lowest Grade: 1 (Brian Sampson)

The very fact Derrick White is now a first-round pick with voters viewing him as a depth piece (four) or high-end backup (one) is astounding and a testament to the hard work this point guard has poured into his game on a consistent basis.

Generously listed at 6’0″ during his final year in high school, he received no interest from NCAA Division I schools and ended up committing to Colorado-Colorado Springs—a Division II program. Then he grew to 6’4″, transferred to Colorado for his final year of eligibility and shot up draft boards while excelling on the defensive end.

It’s that defense that offers the most hope of immediate impact in the NBA. He’s a solid scorer when driving to the hoop who knows how to draw contact, but opponents will be able to take advantage of his unproven shooting range and sag off him. He’ll need to grow as a marksman and distributor to earn their respect, which means Popovich will likely have him focusing most of his rookie energies toward making the biggest possible impact as a point-preventing stalwart.

13. Joffrey Lauvergne: 2.38

  • Age at start of 2017-18: 26
  • Position: PF/C
  • 2016-17 Stats: 5.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.0 assists, 0.4 steals, 0.1 blocks, minus-63.44 TPA (for Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls)
  • Highest Grade: 3 (multiple voters)
  • Lowest Grade: 1 (Adam Spinella)

Nothing about Joffrey Lauvergne’s prior stats in the NBA hints at an upcoming breakout. The 26-year-old big man has consistently underperformed throughout his professional career, failing to knock down shots efficiently, rebound like a player his size should or protect the basket. In fact, he’s been nothing better than passable in any of those areas, even failing to meet that low bar in most of them.

But Lauvergne also hasn’t played in the Spurs system.

The Denver Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder and Chicago Bulls simply didn’t offer the same opportunity for internal growth that comes with suiting up for the NBA’s model organization. And this Frenchman does have potential laying dormant in his 6’11” frame, or else he wouldn’t keep getting opportunities and never would’ve been selected in the 2013 NBA draft. This may be his last shot to stick in the Association, but it’s the best one yet for his personal development.

12. Bryn Forbes: 2.38

  • Age at start of 2017-18: 24
  • Position: SG
  • 2016-17 Stats: 2.6 points, 0.6 rebounds, 0.6 assists, minus-33 TPA
  • Highest Grade: 4 (Nick Birdsong)
  • Lowest Grade: 1 (multiple voters)

Think of Byrn Forbes as a poor man’s Patty Mills.

The NBA numbers, of course, don’t reflect that. He only played sparingly during his rookie season out of Michigan State, and he didn’t shoot the ball particularly well. While scoring 11.9 points per 36 minutes, he could knock down just 36.4 percent of his field-goal attempts, 32.1 percent of his triples and 83.3 percent of his free-throw tries.

But three factors indicate improvement is coming for this 24-year-old guard, and they begin with the last of the aforementioned numbers.

A quality clip at the line can frequently serve as a harbinger of better outside-shooting percentages, and that’s backed up by Forbes’ 50.2/45.9/86.9 slash line in 19 appearances for the G League’s Austin Spurs. Plus, he frequently demonstrated an ability to score off the dribble, which bodes well for his future as an off-the-bench scoring spark who—for the near future, at least—either comes on in garbage time or when key players are resting.

11. Davis Bertans: 2.94

  • Age at start of 2017-18: 24
  • Position: SF/PF
  • 2016-17 Stats: 4.5 points, 1.5 rebounds, 0.7 assists, 0.3 steals, 0.4 blocks, 26.96 TPA
  • Highest Grade: 4 (multiple voters)
  • Lowest Grade: 1 (multiple voters)

Davis Bertans quietly excelled during his rookie season with the Spurs because of his ability to contribute in so many areas. He might not have been a defensive standout or posted massive numbers, but his spot-up work, drive-and-kick game and fundamental understanding of positioning on both ends of the floor allowed him to find immediate success.

Plus, as Tim Stubbs broke down for NBA Math, he fully bought into the movement-heavy schemes:

Bertans wasted no time getting integrated into the Spurs’ school of ball movement, which is a major reason he found so much success next to the aforementioned veterans. He has excellent court vision and always has his head up looking for the next pass; he just understands when to try and draw out the defender. As the Milwaukee Bucks defense attempts to recover from an unexpected cross-court pass from Manu Ginboli in the coming sequence, Bertans fakes his shot and steps in to find a wide open Simmons in the corner.

The 6’10” Latvian forward actually graded out as a positive on both ends of the floor during his inaugural campaign, per NBA Math’s TPA. The only other rookies to do that in the last three seasons while logging at least 500 minutes? Nikola Jokic, Karl-Anthony Towns, Boban Marjanovic and Josh Richardson.

10. Kyle Anderson: 3.44

  • Age at start of 2017-18: 24
  • Position: SG/SF
  • 2016-17 Stats: 3.4 points, 2.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.7 steals, 0.4 blocks, 32.02 TPA
  • Highest Grade: 5 (multiple voters)
  • Lowest Grade: 2 (Tom Rende)

Quickness is typically important in the NBA, but not every player requires fleetness of foot.

Kyle Anderson has used his slow, deliberate pace on the floor to become an asset in a number of different areas. First and foremost, he’s a legitimate lockdown stopper on many possessions, even finishing No. 1 among shooting guards in ESPN.com’s defensive real plus/minus (a weird positional designation, but impressive all the same). What he lacks in quickness is made up for with his length, as he can contest shots from all different positions while using his long arms to poke the ball free from unexpected angles.

But there’s more. He’s a solid secondary facilitator who can operate in the drive-and-kick game or run a pick-and-roll without too much risk of a turnover. He’s even a developing shooter with an improved knack for spot-up attempts. This 24-year-old likely won’t develop into a star, but he does know how to make the most of his 6’9″ frame and leverage his molasses tendencies into legitimate production. And best of all, he inspired one of the best lines written about any player this offseason.

“If not for the NBA’s 24-second limitations, Anderson might casually pump-fake and jab-step every defender on the floor, complete a Sudoku puzzle, and dribble the ball until Ragnarok if it meant generating an extra inch of space on a 16-footer,” Bruno Passos penned for Pounding the Rock.

9. Dejounte Murray: 3.63

  • Age at start of 2017-18: 20
  • Position: PG
  • 2016-17 Stats: 3.4 points, 1.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.2 steals, 0.2 blocks, minus-30.33 TPA
  • Highest Grade: 5 (Dan Favale)
  • Lowest Grade: 3 (multiple voters)

Whether Dejounte Murray takes the starting job and retains it throughout the year, begins with the role of lead point guard but cedes minutes to Tony Parker when the veteran is healthy or remains a bench player all year, he should show off some substantial improvement during his second season.

Still just 20 years old, he’s a raw prospect who hasn’t yet thrived during exhibition season. His shot has betrayed him around the basket, and he’s missed open players with passes that don’t jet away from his hands in their intended directions.

But he’s learning on the job, and the Spurs know this. They’ll also know how to maximize his 6’5″ frame and 6’9.5″ wingspan, which should allow him to shut down smaller opponents and switch on plenty of screens. Moreover, that size should help him excel when driving to the hoop, since he’ll have the vision to see through the trees and make the most advantageous decision—a tendency he’s previously displayed by keeping his eyes up as he burst past his man and into traffic.

8. Manu Ginobili: 3.88

  • Age at start of 2017-18: 40
  • Position: SG
  • 2016-17 Stats: 7.5 points, 2.3 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.2 steals, 0.2 blocks, 48.14 TPA
  • Highest Grade: 6 (Tom Rende)
  • Lowest Grade: 3 (multiple voters)

Manu Ginobili might not be ageless, but he’s proved pretty darn impervious to Father Time in recent years. Now 40 years old as he enters his 16th season with the Spurs, he’s focusing more on his speciality areas and still finding a way to remain a positive contributor. One of our 16 panelists viewed Ginobili as a solid starter (these determinations are made irrespective to actual roles on teams), while another two had him pegged as a low-end starter.

Asking the Argentine 2-guard to finish plays around the rim won’t go well these days. But he’s still a deadly spot-up weapon who somehow gets better in key situations, and his craftiness with the ball allows him to break down defenses and kick to open shooters. Throw in his defensive smarts and knack for thievery, and it’s hard to argue with the enduring production.

According to TPA, Ginobili was a positive on both ends for the fifth consecutive season in 2016-17, joining Karl Malone, Jason Kidd, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Michael Jordan as one of only five players to finish to function as such during an age-39 season. Now, can he join Vince Carter by doing the same in the age-40 club?

7. Tony Parker: 4.31

  • Age at start of 2017-18: 35
  • Position: PG
  • 2016-17 Stats: 10.1 points, 1.8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 0.5 steals, minus-90.32 TPA
  • Highest Grade: 7 (Louie Vicchiollo)
  • Lowest Grade: 3 (multiple voters)

Tony Parker is no longer the same player he was in his prime, and that’s not likely to change as he works his way back from a brutal quadriceps injury.

Throughout the 2016-17 season, it was readily apparent that he didn’t quite have the same nimbleness that lets him get to his spots in the half-court set, and the split-second delays allowed defenders to provide stronger contests of his shots. He wasn’t able to draw whistles with nearly the same frequency, and his percentages dipped across the board, leading to the worst offensive box plus/minus of his career. Couple that with overall defensive porosity, and he was more liability than asset to the Spurs.

But he does possess a few saving graces, which allowed five of our panelists to reasonably grade him out as at least a low-end starter. Parker still enjoys a fundamental understanding of San Antonio’s schemes—both offensive and defensive—and that allows him to make up for his diminishing athletic gifts with cerebral acuity. Plus, he remains a talented distributor with the vision to pass his teammates open, and his turnover numbers have consistently trended in the downward direction.

6. Patty Mills: 4.94

  • Age at start of 2017-18: 29
  • Position: PG/SG
  • 2016-17 Stats: 9.5 points, 1.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 0.8 steals, 44.75 TPA
  • Highest Grade: 6 (multiple voters)
  • Lowest Grade: 4 (multiple voters)

Patty Mills is never going to be a primary playmaker for the Spurs, and asking him to function as the starting floor general in Parker’s absence might not be for the best. The Australian combo guard is deadliest when he’s able to play around with possessions and call his own number, not try to keep everyone involved while running a more standard offense.

While he’s a weak link on defense and has only just started to show off more advanced facilitating chops, it’s the shooting ability that makes him such a threatening presence out of the backcourt. That skill allows him to serve as a bona fide spark plug who can jettison opponents’ hopes of taking advantage of the Spurs’ second unit. After all, Mills knocked down 41.4 percent of his triples while taking 4.4 per game last year, and he did so while creating an inordinate amount of his own offense.

During the 2016-17, 92 other players fired away at least four times per game from outside the rainbow. Of that group, just Mills and 20 more players connected at no worse than a 40 percent clip. But only 10 players required assists on a lower percentage of their makes, giving this sharpshooter the highly coveted volume-efficiency-creation trifecta.

5. Rudy Gay: 4.94

  • Age at start of 2017-18: 31
  • Position: SF/PF
  • 2016-17 Stats: 18.7 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.5 steals, 0.9 blocks, 14.02 TPA (for Sacramento Kings)
  • Highest Grade: 6 (multiple voters)
  • Lowest Grade: 4 (multiple voters)

“With his creation and driving skills, he can lead a second-unit offense more deftly than anyone currently on San Antonio’s roster, and it will allow the coaching staff to feel increasingly comfortable resting Kawhi for an extra minute or two every night,” Tony East wrote about Rudy Gay for NBA Math during the offseason. “If signing Gay means Leonard will be at full strength every moment he is on the court, the Spurs will be thrilled.”

That added depth is certainly a plus for the Spurs, but so too is Gay’s ability to capably play at either forward spot. He has the size and athleticism to match up against small forwards and power forwards defensively, and his offensive versatility should also help make San Antonio’s collective life a bit easier. The 31-year-old was finally starting to show off a more diversified game with the Sacramento Kings in 2016-17, displaying improved three-point shooting, a willingness to create for others and excellence in post-up scenarios against smaller foes.

But we can’t overlook the big concern here.

Gay is now coming off an Achilles tear that ended his Sacramento tenure prematurely, and that’s a tough injury for anyone, much less a player in his 30s whose game is largely predicated upon his athleticism. He’ll have to show some adaptability in his new home, since the physicality might not be there any longer—not to the same extent, at least.

4. Pau Gasol: 5.00

  • Age at start of 2017-18: 37
  • Position: C
  • 2016-17 Stats: 12.4 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.4 steals, 1.1 blocks, 118.14 TPA
  • Highest Grade: 6 (multiple voters)
  • Lowest Grade: 4 (multiple voters)

Pau Gasol is (obviously) no longer the same player he was in his prime years with the Los Angeles Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies. He may still throw up the occasional double-double while showing off shooting range and passing acumen from the high post, but he’s not going to take over contests on each end of the floor. Instead, the Spurs have to build schemes that maximize his enduring talents while minimizing his weaknesses.

No longer taking as many self-created looks from around the hoop, Gasol now spends lots of his minutes prowling the perimeter and waiting for spot-up opportunities. He’s a complementary piece rather than a featured one. And defensively, he’s quite lucky he plays for a Spurs organization that’s able to build around his ability in limited areas rather than one that asks him to expose his lack of lateral mobility and inability to defend in open space.

If you only look at some of the advanced metrics or watch how he finishes plays on either end, you can be fooled into thinking he’s still a star. But our voters have it correct by unanimously grading him between a solid starter and high-end backup, because the process behind those results shows off his limitations and what San Antonio has to sacrifice when he’s on the floor.

3. Danny Green: 5.88

  • Age at start of 2017-18: 30
  • Position: SG
  • 2016-17 Stats: 7.3 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.8 blocks, 85.11 TPA
  • Highest Grade: 7 (multiple voters)
  • Lowest Grade: 5 (multiple voters)

As he moves out of his athletic prime, Danny Green is becoming more of a specialist than ever. A whopping 69.3 percent of his field-goal attempts came from downtown in 2016-17, which shattered his previous career high (63.0).

But that’s fine so long as he continues knocking down his triples. He connected on 37.9 percent of his treys last year, helping make up for his diminished finishing habits around the basket, inability to draw whistles and lack of impact in many other offensive areas. After struggling to find a rhythm in 2015-16, he re-established himself as one of the league’s leading three-and-D candidates, helping boost San Antonio’s net rating by 0.4 points per 100 possessions while he was on the floor. That may seem like a marginal increase, but this team’s depth and style is set up to minimize on/off effects, so any positive showing is still, well, a positive.

But best of all for the Spurs, that defensive excellence doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere at any point in the near future.

2. LaMarcus Aldridge: 6.63

  • Age at start of 2017-18: 32
  • Position: PF
  • 2016-17 Stats: 17.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.6 steals, 1.2 blocks, 50.4 TPA
  • Highest Grade: 8 (Louie Vicchiollo)
  • Lowest Grade: 5 (multiple voters)

LaMarcus Aldridge has become one of the league’s more intriguing players, since he’s hovering somewhere between his old days of stardom with the Portland Trail Blazers and the negative postseason reputation he’s developed with a steady stream of disappointing performances that only mix in the occasional breakout showing, like the one above.

Now 32 years old, his celestial days are most likely in the past. That just doesn’t mean he’s washed up.

“In the Spurs’ pass-happy offense, most of Aldridge’s opportunities come after the ball has swung around the arc, in the pick-and-roll or on put-backs,” Michael Brock wrote for NBA Math during a deep dive into Aldridge’s value. “Gone are the days where the Blazers feed him a dozen times per game at the left elbow and let him go to work. His attempts now come within the flow of the offense, but he knew this when he signed on.”

Playing within that flow limits what he can do as an individual, but it also allows him to stave off efficiency declines and maintain the energy needed to keep serving as a benefitial interior defender. And so long as he keeps doing that, he’ll keep convincing the majority of our voters that he’s no worse than a solid starter—a statement disagreed with by only two of the 16 panelists, who still thought he fit the billing of a low-end starter.

1. Kawhi Leonard: 11.00

  • Age at start of 2017-18: 26
  • Position: SF
  • 2016-17 Stats: 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.7 blocks, 383.56 TPA
  • Highest Grade: 12 (Jordan McGillis)
  • Lowest Grade: 10 (Louie Vicchiollo)

Along with LeBron James and Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard was one of only three players throughout the entire Association to receive one of the coveted 12s that indicate best-player-in-the-league status. And while most would agree that he hasn’t surpassed everyone else, the very fact he’s legitimately worked his way into the conversation is an impressive feat in and of itself.

These days, discussions about the NBA’s premier two-way studs basically start and end with Leonard. He’s developed into a go-to scorer for the Spurs who can thrive in spot-up situations (94th percentile last year) while excelling in isolation (72.2 percentile) and creating plenty of his own offense in various situations. Meanwhile, he’s still a lockdown defender who strikes fear into the heart of the opposition whenever he’s in their immediate vicinity. Some players won’t even put the rock on the floor when he’s around, knowing all too well the ease with which he can poke the ball free.

For well over a decade, the Spurs have been a system-based organization. They’ve had stars who fit into the schemes, but Popovich has rarely let them deviate from the plan. Leonard, however, has been granted a near-permanent green light that allows him to commandeer possessions and serve as both conductor and first-chair player.

And that basically says it all.

Who’s rated too high? Who are we selling short? Join the conversation using #CrystalBasketball on Twitter.

Follow NBA Math on Twitter @NBA_Math and on Facebook.

Unless otherwise indicated, all stats are from NBA Math or NBA.com.

Many thanks to our entire panel of voters: Andrew BaileyArjun BaradwajNick BirdsongMichael BrockTony EastDan FavaleAdam FromalRyan JarvisJordan McGillisTom RendeBrian SampsonAdam SpinellaEric SpyropolousTim StubbsFrank UrbinaLouis Vicchiollo

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