Blogtable: Has Leonard, Green, George or Butler developed most?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.

BLOGTABLE: George, Leonard, Butler or Green — who has developed most? |
How will Warriors fare on their road trip? | East hierarchy after December?

VIDEOHas Paul George or Kawhi Leonard made the bigger jump this season?

> Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Jimmy Butler and Draymond Green: Which player has surprised you the most with his development so far in the NBA? And, if you were an NBA GM, which of these four players would you move heaven and earth to trade for?

Steve Aschburner, As far as development, I’ve got to be honest and say Jimmy Butler. He’s the one who, in all my wisdom, I watched upon his arrival in Chicago in 2011 and figured, “End-of-bench guy.” I saw flaws – flat shot, short arms, straight-up-and-down stance, small reputation at Marquette – but obviously didn’t see the hard work and drive going on behind the curtain. Trade for? Kawhi Leonard, because I think he still has untapped offensive upside to go with his athleticism and size, on top of all that Spurs pedigree. Of course the Bulls guy probably will prove me wrong again.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.comThey’re all A-listers. But in terms of surprise would have to go with Paul George because he’s the only one of the foursome making a comeback from a horrific injury. He’s actually playing the best basketball of his career. As a GM, in a close race I’d go after Kawhi Leonard. He’s the best shooter and gets the edge as defender over Draymond Green.

Scott Howard-Cooper, Draymond Green. It’s not even close. He was drafted in the second round amid concern over whether he was a small forward or a power forward and then he turns into a critical part of a championship team while playing power forward and center. The Warriors didn’t even take him until their third pick of the 2012 draft, and now he’s going to be an All-Star in 2016. No one in any front office saw this coming. Who among the four players mentioned I break the bank to acquire depends on what my team looks like.

Shaun Powell, The choice is Draymond Green, a second-round pick in 2012 who has developed into one of the league’s best all-around players (passing, defense, rebounding, 3-point shooting, leadership). Leonard had all the tools except outside shooting, Butler was already an ace defender and George was a lottery pick. That said, I’d go hardest to get Leonard, because he’s on a reasonable contract and I think his ceiling is higher than the rest. He’s just now learning how to score, and we know about his D.

John Schuhmann, I didn’t watch any of these guys in college, but Draymond Green has to be the biggest surprise, in that he’s gone from second-round pick to one of the dozen best players in the NBA. He’s the most important part of the best defense in the league and has become a terrific pick-and-roll playmaker who keeps a top-5 offense rolling when defenses take the ball out of Stephen Curry‘s hands. I’d love to trade for any of them, because they’re all impact players on both ends of the floor, maybe the four best two-way players in the league. But my vote is for Leonard, who’s more than a year younger than any of the other three, is becoming a go-to guy on offense, and still has more developing to do.

Sekou Smith, Kawhi Leonard’s development has surprised me the most, given that I was not well-versed on him or his game when he was drafted. His improvement on the offensive end, complete with 3-point range and deft ballhandling skills, give him a wealth of skills on both ends of the floor that few players in the league possess. It’s funny, Paul George, Draymond Green and Jimmy Butler are three of the other guys in the league I’d put in that same category. As far as which one of these guys I’d make moves to trade for as a GM, George would top that list, but any one of these guys would be an extremely valuable addition to your franchise.

Ian Thomsen, Green has been the biggest surprise — he was a second-round pick who within three years was winning a championship with Golden State. But right now you’d have to say that George is the only player on this list who could become the No. 1 star on a championship team, because he can create his own shot and can rank among the best wing defenders in the NBA. Here’s the problem: You’re not going to be able to trade for him unless moving “heaven and earth” means including someone like LeBron James, Steph Curry or Anthony Davis.

Lang Whitaker,’s All Ball blogI’d say all of these guys have developed into great players, but for me the most spectacular development has been that of Kawhi Leonard, who along with a terrific offensive game has turned into the NBA’s best one-on-one defender. Which isn’t to detract from George, Butler or Green — they are all similarly great defenders and have the ability to score when necessary, with PG having perhaps the best offensive game of any of these four players. But for me, Leonard’s transformation into the player he is today is the most stunning, and the most promising, when you consider how much further he may still go.


  1. Kawhi Leaonard has improved the most because of his defensive prowess. In addition his offensive capability has improved, just like we’ve seen in the past few games( in one of his games, he dropped 32).

  2. taekayo says:

    Paul and Kawhi are definitely the future of their teams, and probably the league. However, I think its kind of expected when they were drafted higher than Butler and Green. Though the Spurs always have a history of getting below the radar guys with great upside (Manu and TP). The league should learn by now, if San Antonio wants your rookie, don’t deal it to them LOL.

    Though Butler was a great surprise, he had the right situation to improve when DRose was gone. Thibs utilized him because of his D, but there is really no go to guy at that time, so he has to score. His hard work on improving his offense paid off.

    My vote goes to Green. He was 2nd rounder, and just had that small chance when Lee got injured. What impressed me the most is how he customized himself into fitting in the GS system. He doesn’t have any specific skill coming into the league, but when GS needs a stretch 4 that plays tough defense, thats what he turned himself into. And this year, he also improves being a facilitator, and playing as a very small center (on their small ball line-up). Though GS was built around Steph, Green has become the ultimate swiss knife/glue guy for the team. Its just like how Pippen built himself while complementing MJ’s Bulls.

  3. Toby says:

    Hmmm, first i would say kawai has a better shot at a title this year than george and as #1 player on a team and to the writer who said the warriors had the #1 defence with draymond green im afraid the actual facts by stats is the spurs have the #1 defensive rating in the league.

  4. Kawhi is my guy but Paul is playing on another level right now, i live in Indy so i see Paul’s game and he is in the zone his three point shot is just really good right now. Indiana’sOwnLarryBird……

  5. TL says:

    i think Paul George. He’s the only one who has developped into a super star. The other ones are all-stars at best.

  6. OverThere says:

    Kawhi Leonard…and its pretty easy in my opinion…

    Offensively, PG has been the first option on Indiana for year now whereas this is the first season Kawhi has been the number one… Every figure of KLs game is up, most astonishing is his efficiency is up too which is something you would think would go down with higher usage. Once KL gets a few more years of experience being the number one he’ll add that PG “polish” to his offense since most on here just talk about how nice looking the offense of PG is more then really looking at the numbers behind them.

    Defensively, KL is better then PG but lets be real KL is on another level vs the whole NBA. That’s why he and not Draymon won the DPOY last year and why KL will win it again this year.

    Also, off topic but you wont find KL in social media drama with thirst-traps like PG either, KL too mature for that kind of stupid stuff.

  7. Shock says:

    You all have this wrong…. how could you all be wrong? First of all… for all you Green lovers….. you talk about his championship…… HELLO! Kawhi has a championship as well, defensive player of the year, finals MVP….. He is easily the hands down top choice.

    Paul George has been the best overall and is now tied with Kawhi in my opinion. Paul is a great all around player and has proven he deserves the top spot however with the great improvements that Kawhi has had, he too has proven to be on top of the list with Paul.

    Green is a product of his teammates, Butler is just a good player and has not proven anything. The majority today would want Kawhi as he is improving and is solid. We already know what George can do but he may end up being another Carmelo with stats and nothing to show for it other than All Star Games and maybe a spot on the Olympics where Kawai is a champion, will be an All Star, and will likely be an Olympic champion as well.

    Check to see who has been Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the year at the same time…… Very small list. I believe it is Jordan and Olajuwon and Kawai if I remember right.

  8. prahumac says:

    yup the reigning mvp kawhi is the best player in the league right now!!! go spurs go

  9. William says:

    I think it’s between Leonard and George.

    Leonard was finals MVP.

    The Pacers were awful without George, and are back to being serious contenders with him back on the floor.

  10. Matt says:

    Paul George all day that team would not have a win without him if they make the playoffs other than curry I think he’d have a shot

  11. michael says:

    Is this a joke? Paul george should not even be in this conversation, but not because he doesn’t belong, but because he was an elite player three years ago way before we even knew what butler, green, or leonard could do. This guy was a legit MVP candidate in 2013 before he broke his leg and had to miss basically an entire season because of it. Now he is back better than ever leading a team which didn’t even make the playoffs last year, with a bunch of role players, to the second best record in the east. He’s third in the league in scoring and plays top tier defense, and he is only one year older than Kawhi and already a two time, about to be a three time all star.

  12. 2kfan says:

    Seriously? Paul George is better than all of those players and is arguably one of the best players in the entire league. Stop grouping Paul George with those other players, because Paul George is a bonafide superstar that has proven he can lead a team deep in the playoffs. Paul George doesn’t get to play with Duncan, Aldridge, Parker,and Ginobili like Kawhi Leonard. Paul George doesn’t get to play with Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah and former MVP D-Rose like Jimmy Butler. And Paul George CERTAINLY doesn’t get to play with current MVP Stephen Curry, Iguodala, Thompson, etc. Don’t get me wrong Paul George has a very solid team, but none of them are All-Stars. And he missed almost the entire season last season. Until those other players carry the load George has, they don’t belong in the same conversation as PG.

  13. NBALogics says:

    I’d take Kawhi Leonard just because of what he has Accomplished (Finals MVP & Defensive Player of the Yr.), I’d take PG because he is a Proven Scorer and good defender. Only problem is that Lebron has taken a heavy dump on all these Guys especially PG on the way to the Finals so if I wanted to win a Chip quick I’d have to make a couple more trades.

  14. Rymnd says:

    Though he doesn’t receive much respect, he has proved something already. NBA Champion. Finals MVP. Defensive Player of the Year. Not to mention he has one of the highest 3P% this season. And he leads the League in Career Games Won % (players at least 5 years in the league). LBJ Stopper! (You know, PG gets pushed by LBJ almost always). In spite of all the achievements so far, he is still stoic, does not brag or show-off.

  15. ajharrisbrown says:

    PG is the best player now, but because of the injury I’d be hesitant to trade for him. Kawhi has the most upside and is the youngest. Go with him. He’s also pretty good at creating his own shot. While PG is the best at it, don’t think you can say he’s the “only guy” who can create for himself as one columnist wrote.

    To the commenters, Kawhi is definitely being considered for MVP at this point… and the East is now better than the West? Say What??

  16. ALBERT says:

    Sugar K is my favorite, but I think PG13 is the closest to a team leader. Kawhi is more like Scottie Pippen

  17. John says:

    Def Leonard. The way he stopped LeBron a couple years ago in the Finals, man that was outstanding defense. Paul George tried to stop LeBron but ultimately failed despite terrific defense. I think that Leonard has the advantage because his arms are freakishly long. It amazes me how his scouting report coming out of college downplayed his abilities so much. He should have been a top 2 or 3 pick (at least). The only thing the scouting report said he could do well was slash. The Spurs were the only ones smart enough to see the diamond in the rough and grab him. Green is useful and versatile and everything, so I would give him my second pick, but I’d still rather have Leonard’s long arms on my team. Hey, can I please have both of them? That would be sweet. Butler is the real deal, don’t get me wrong, but does he have a Finals MVP yet? Nope. I know lots of Bulls fans on here will claim he’s the best of the 4 but I disagree.

  18. Danny says:

    Paul George = better shooter/scorer/defender/player than all 3. Dude would be MVP if Curry wasn’t setting the league on fire.

  19. Michael says:

    A quarter of the way through the season and Kawhi is 3rd in the league in 3-point percentage, at 47%, and 12th in points per game.

    Who saw that coming?

  20. Kyoz@ says:


    PG13 is only guy that a man on his team with role player and can made his team to top2 on Eastern(that now stronger than Western).

    Green witout Curry cant do that.(GW will be last 4 team on Western with Green+role player).
    KL can do nothing without Greg+Duncan+Manu+Aldridge.(Spur will be on the last 4 team on West)
    And Butler, even he can do as much when no D-rose just like he show last season but i doubt can he maintain that offensive form if he is the only guy.

    If GW and Spurs is on lowest team on Western right now, no one will talk about KL or Green to compare with PG13 anymore.

    Green and KL can be on the same conversation with PG13 because of they have so much better team support.

    Bring out Curry, Duncan, Aldridge, Greg out of teams and you can see the result.

    • markstorm says:

      I understand your love for Paul George, but you saying Kawhi would be nothing without the aging big three is just flat out wrong.
      You don’t win finals MVP doing nothing..the year he won finals mvp he took it to Westbrook, Durant and King James. Give the man some respect. Then the next season he won Defensive player of the year. But yet you say he cant do anything? Don’t punish him because hes selfless and doesn’t mind not being the first option on a team hell bent on ball movement. George had a good team himself at one point even pushing the Heat to 7 games but never got it done, he also plays in the East, so less competition.

  21. lbj says:

    Developed most: Kawhi Leonard. Finals MVP.

    Trade for: Paul George. When the Pacers fail their small ball experiment and George wants out, that would be the right time.

  22. Sonny says:

    Ill take Kawhi, he gives you 100% every game and has untapped offensive potential.

  23. bodjee says:

    Draymond Green because he will help make those around him plays better.

    • Jeff says:

      Really!?!? I think Draymond Green is overrated. He is playing good right now only because he is surrounded by a lot of very good basketball players. Trade him to Sixers for Okafor or Noel and the SIxers will just be the same. Just my thoughts.

  24. ymf says:

    pg or kawhi. They are the only ones with the ability to lead a team.

  25. jwillie4 says:

    Paul George easily. His offensive ability along with his elite level defense. That makes him head and shoulders above the rest.

  26. Davante says:

    Are you guys serious??? Paul george is better then kawhi.He came off a BROKEN LEG playing like an mvp.Kawhi didnt

  27. Pinoy Fan says:

    i think paul george develop the most, hey come to think of that almost 1 season lost because of BROKEN LEG injury, and came this season averaging 27.2 points

    – just my thoughts

  28. esco says:

    Kawhi Leonard is the new superstar. PG13 is older and wasted his time. Lebron pushes PG13 around while Leonard can hold his own, also KL2 bullies Durcant, Melo and them.

    • Patrick says:

      You’re absolutely moronic. He “wasted time”??? Dude he snapped his effing leg in half. IN HALF like clean. How did he waste time? Also, KL is 24 and PG is 25. Please leave this forum.

  29. Greatness says:

    Its PG13. I say broken leg to 27 points and like 6 rebounds a game is better than the other guys just going up 2-6 in a couple of their stat averages.

  30. Draymond Green. By a landslide.

  31. Pacer Austin says:

    Seriously..only one “expert” picks PG. Are any of the others even discussed when it comes to MVP? And the laughable comment that he is lacking on the defensive end. Seriously….do you even watch games? Check the stats gentlemen. Here is the question….any of these others going to make a mid tier team elite. Answer is no. I hope Chicago builds around Butler (be like building around Pippen) and looking forward to the day when Leanord actually has to carry the load of a team on a daily basis

    • TEG says:

      @Pacer Austin- Dude, I’d actually would take Leonard quite serious. sure there hasn’t been loud conversation when it comes to MVP quality but there actually has been quiet talks about his name getting thrown into conversation. also, I guess you had a little memory loss when Leonard did work in 2014 Finals that got him Finals MVP & oh he won’t be by himself since Spurs have Aldridge on board.

    • Shock says:

      Teams win championships… that is why Green and Kawhi have them! They are both solid team players and play solid defense. Paul George has been the best of this group and he deserves to be an all star however Kawai is the best all around and there is no need to even dispute that. He does what is needed to win, can shut down anyone, can score at will if needed, and that is why he is in company with only Jordan and Olajuwon. Finals MVP and Defensive Player of the Year. When his career is over, he will stand out as the best of this group as he has a bright future ahead of him, all star games, olympic gold, championships, etc.

      Green is a solid teammate, solid defensive player, but is not the all around player Kawhi is. George is a solid all around player but not the defensive player that Kawai is, and Butler is not at the top of any list and is just a solid two way player.

  32. jon i says:

    Lenoard is a all around monster and once TP, TD, and ginobli (spell check) retire, he will be let loose

  33. Chicago boi says:

    Even I am a Chicago fanboi, I would trade Bulls full roster for Kawhi Leonard.

  34. SG says:

    “I don’t think he is in the same tier as Leonard.” Nobody actively playing the game of basketball is a more dominant two-way player, than Kawhi.

    But let’s be fair here, they are all great 🙂

    • DH says:

      everyone still doesn’t respect leonard’s shot, and id bet he would have the best 3pt percentage there to go along with the 2nd highest scoring averages on a truly elite team… leonard has never been ‘the man’ like george, and a lot of his success comes from the spurs system and him being the 3rd offensive weapon on a stacked team, but he is taking the reins this season more than ever before and his development should excite the hell out of spurs fans, all 4 should be all stars this year but if you had to leave one out it would probably be butler

  35. Cboy says:

    For me it’s Leonard all the way and it’s not really that close. One could consider George but defensively I don’t think he is in the same tier as Leonard. Offensively I think Kawhi is on par with Paul if not a slight adjustment by pop away from exceeding him. You have to take into account Indiana’s offense is completely built around and runs through Paul. Which isv the exact opposite of what the spurs do. Yet Kawhi still gets buckets he is averaging 22.2 ppg while taking fewer then 20 attempts. Can you imagine what he can do if he had the full green light George has or KD, Westbrook and LeBron? I think he could average 30 ppg easy. Let’s not even talk about the amount of minutes he plays cause it’s sort of low for a player of his caliber.
    The other two I fill no need to even mention in the same breath as Kawhi and Paul. They aren’t even in the same league honestly. Butler and Green are very good players/allstars although, I think Green is more of a glorified role player. Still they both will be considered allstars. With that said and out the way Kawhi and Paul are superstar type players. A very rare breed. We are talking about all-time great levels they both could possibly achieve HOF careers are their trajectory. With Kawhi being a couple steps ahead of Paul having a title, finals mvp and dpoy ti his name already. Right now as a GM I would move heaven and earth for Kawhi. Ceiling is the highest and I don’t think we have even seen half of what he can do yet.