Kawhi Leonard, however, is already a nine-year veteran in the Association. He has had the opportunity to compete alongside many very talented players from the San Antonio Spurs, last year's champion Toronto Raptors, and today's Clippers.
Who are the best teammates Kawhi Leonard has played with? Where does George stack up against them?
Richard Jefferson (2011-12), Kevin Martin (2016), Andre Miller (2016), Pascal Siakam (2018-19), Serge Ibaka (2018-19), Marc Gasol (2019), Lou Williams (2019–present), Kyle Lowry (2018-19)
5. Paul George (2019–present)
George has very stiff competition given the breadth and talent across Leonard's nine-year NBA tenure. George could very well surpass some of these names ahead of the former Oklahoma City Thunder wing, but securing a championship or two may be necessary to make a concise argument against soon-to-be and future first-ballot Hall of Famers.
Just for the record, some of George's accolades include: six All-Star selections, one All-NBA First Team selection (last year), four third-team All-NBA selections, four All-Defensive selections (two first teams, two second teams), and his Most Improved Player award from 2012-13.
George is a dynamite player with a smooth game, but his career isn't done either.
4. Tony Parker (2011-18)
Charlotte Hornets legend Tony Parker. Kidding. The former Spurs point guard was an instrumental member of four championships for the San Antonio dynasty. Parker was a six-time All-Star (like George), Finals MVP in 2007, and three-time All-NBA Second Team selection. After Parker retired from competition in 2019, the Spurs officially raised his No. 9 jersey to the rafters.
The French floor general was a stable presence for head coach Gregg Popovich's team, arriving in San Antonio many years before Kawhi Leonard and, coincidentally, leaving in the same offseason.
3. Manu Ginobili (2011-18)
Is Manu Ginobili actually better than Tony Parker? That's not really the point made here by the teammate ranking, so we can leave that discussion for a later time. For now, let's go over his career achievements and why (for now) he is historically a better teammate than George for Kawhi Leonard.
The Argentina native, above all else, changed the game as one of the trail blazers introducing the Euro step. Ginobili was a super sub for Popovich off the pine, averaging 13.3 points and 1.3 steals per game in his 16-year NBA career. Ginobili won four championships with the Spurs before retiring in 2018. The San Antonio shooting guard was also a two-time All-Star, Sixth Man of the Year, two-time All-NBA Third Team selection, former EuroLeague MVP, and, like Parker, had his number retired by the Spurs.
Given his overall impact on the game, Ginobili is one step above Parker. Of course, it's extremely close, and both will be first-ballot Hall of Fame entrants.
2. Pau Gasol (2016-18)
A two-time champion with the Lakers, the Spanish big man spent two seasons as a teammate of Kawhi Leonard. Both possess deft post moves, though, and Gasol has a slight leg up on most from this list.
Gasol, 39, is also a six-time All-Star, former Rookie of the Year winner, two-time second-team All-NBA selection, and two-time silver medalist with the Spanish men's basketball team at the Summer Olympics.
Gasol and Kawhi Leonard never had a chance to win a championship together; the Golden State Warriors eliminated the Spurs in 2018—the last year Kawhi spent in silver and black.
1. Tim Duncan (2011-16)
A first-ballot Hall of Fame power forward/center, Tim Duncan will be enshrined in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame (officially) next year, but he's a 2020 selection alongside former rivals Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett. Duncan, in 19 professional seasons in a Spurs jersey, was a 15-time All-Star, two-time league MVP, three-time Finals MVP, Rookie of the Year, All-Star MVP, and 10-time All-NBA First Team selection.
The “Big Fundamental” was as solid a franchise cornerstone you could ask for. Duncan and Leonard spent five seasons together on the hardwood, winning the 2013-14 title with Leonard winning his first of two Finals MVP honors. It was at that point Duncan passed the metaphorical Spurs franchise player torch to Leonard, who accepted at first.
Things, however, changed very soon after that. Kawhi Leonard won his second title with the Raptors, playing alongside Gasol's brother, All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry, and Serge Ibaka.
What happens next? Much of that depends, among other people, upon Paul George. Perhaps one day George will surpass these names as Leonard's co-star and best teammate.