In sports I'm starting to hate the word "potential" just because of how many times I've seen can't miss prospects squander it. People from Freddy Adu to Jamarcus Russell to Anthony Randolph, the list just goes on and on in terms of how many players never truly end up in a league of their own. A lot of times we focus on that player's lack of work ethic, but I think a very large factor that goes into it is stability and ending up in the right situation. In American sports especially, our draft system makes it almost impossible for a top prospect to land with an organization with a good front office and coaching staff. We reward poorly run organizations with top draft picks, who face the burden of high head coach turnover and joining a locker room that most likely has a losing mentality. There are exceptions however.
Kawhi Leonard went from being a lottery pick of the San Antonio Spurs 3 years ago to being NBA Finals MVP from this year's past NBA Finals. He effectively went toe to toe with LeBron James, who is easily the best basketball player I've ever witnessed with my own eyes (I don't like comparing athletes who played before I was able to see them play. Can't accurately compare them but that's for another article). A lot of Leonard's improvement comes down to the fact that he landed with the best organization in the NBA and was coached by the best head coach to have ever been in the league. He was able to combine that perfect fit with work ethic and will to improve, and the results have been amazing to witness. The video below nicely chronicles how he was able to drastically improve his basketball skills, and it's a lesson that not all prospects fizzle out. I hope he continues this improvement and is able to entertain us all for years to come.