The 2011 NBA Draft was absolutely stacked.
The class included future NBA All-Stars Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Kemba Walker, Jimmy Butler and Isaiah Thomas.
It also included Kawhi Leonard, who might end up being the best player of the bunch when it’s all said and done. The two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year wasn’t selected until the 15th overall pick. The Indiana Pacers drafted him, but they already had a deal in place to trade him immediately to the San Antonio Spurs.
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A number of teams, including the Phoenix Suns, passed on Kawhi. The Suns opted to select Markieff Morris over Leonard with the 13th pick. Morris has been a solid NBA player, but Kawhi is Kawhi. Why did the Suns pass over Leonard? In addition to concerns about his perimeter shooting, they thought he sweat too much during their pre-draft interview. Seriously. Check out this excerpt from a 2015 article by AZCentral.com sports writer Paul Coro:
But with a front office conducting its first draft in Phoenix, then-General Manager Lance Blanks’ staff did not have Leonard in the discussion. Part of the Suns’ knock on Leonard, beyond his perimeter shot, was how nervously he acted in a draft combine interview, when he sweated through his suit.
Kawhi acting nervous? I’m pretty sure the man is part cyborg. He certainly wasn’t nervous when he earned NBA Finals MVP after leading the Spurs to victory over the Miami Heat in the 2014 Finals. My guess is that Kawhi was probably fresh off a workout and his shower just didn’t take. The dude loves working out, after all.
The Suns haven’t made the playoffs since 2009, and they’ve posted only one winning season during that span. Meanwhile, the Spurs continue to burnish their reputation as one of the most successful franchises in NBA history.
A reminder to teams ahead of the 2018 NBA Draft: Don’t pass on a dude because of his perspiration level.
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