Man w/the Hands: Leonard’s broad shoulders and huge hands gives him a distinct advantage with a basketball.

The NBA’s most humdrum, eternally overlooked franchise is at it again: In the hunt for yet another NBA title. And while TIM DUNCAN, MANU GINOBILI and TONY PARKER remain the ice that chills the Spurs drink, third-year swingman KAWHI LEONARD has emerged as the flavor that enhances it.

Since Leonard’s return from a broken hand on February 26, the Spurs are 7-0 with wins over Miami, Chicago and Portland as San An (48-16) has catapulted past OKC for first place in the West. And it is Leonard’s versatile game and overall play that may determine the Spurs’ playoff fate this spring. Here’s why:

Leonard’s explosiveness and tenacity around the hoop gives the Spurs an added dimension that Coach Popovich loves. Learning from the Spurs’ Big 3 of Parker, Duncan and Ginobili has prepped Kawhi well to be the future leader of the Spurs.

The 22-year old Leonard is very unassuming and surprisingly cerebral for someone so young. Yet at shooting guard/small forward, Kawhi is a tenacious rebounder, willing defender and fierce competitor. Leonard not only gives the Spurs an added dimension with his athleticism, he helps invigorate their bland persona as well. Big time.

Last season, the Spurs came within a couple missed Kawhi Leonard free throws from an NBA championship. Something tells me “The Man with the Hands” will have his all over another Spurs shot at the title this spring.

And this time may prove to be Kawhi-te special.

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