He may not be the most well known or have earned the most accolades of any Spurs player, but Kawhi Leonard has been San Antonio's brightest star so far this season.
Now the Spurs might have to play without him Saturday night when they go after their 28th win in 29 home meetings with the Philadelphia 76ers, the NBA's lone winless club.
On a San Antonio roster that already has Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and now LaMarcus Aldridge, Leonard appears to be taking a huge step forward in 2015-16.
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The reigning Defensive Player of the Year has team highs with 15 steals and 10 blocks while limiting players he's defended to 3-of-18 shooting from 3-point range. After averaging a career-high 16.5 points last season, Leonard is scoring 21.9 per game and shooting 52.6 percent after he had 20 points in Wednesday's 113-101 win at Portland.
Leonard, though, is questionable Saturday due to a respiratory infection, while Manu Ginobili is also day to day with adductor tightness. If they can't go, San Antonio would likely turn to a combination of Danny Green, Patty Mills and Kyle Anderson to fill in.
Aldridge, who spent his first nine seasons in Portland, had 23 points in his first game back since signing with the Spurs in July. He joined Duncan and David Robinson as the Spurs' only players with 120-plus points and 70-plus rebounds in the first eight games.
"It was emotional. I have nothing but love for this city. I have so many memories in this arena so it was hard for me out there," the four-time All-Star said.
San Antonio (6-2) has been outstanding on offense during its three-game winning streak, averaging 111.0 points while shooting 54.8 percent. It should be able to continue that production in the opener of a three-game homestand against the 76ers.
Philadelphia (0-9) has given up 109.0 points and a 45.7 field-goal percentage in its last five. The club also has struggled with a league-low 92.0 points per game and shot just 34.9 percent and committed 18 turnovers in Friday's 102-85 loss at Oklahoma City.
Jahlil Okafor has been a bright spot with a team-high 19.0 points per game, but the rookie center will try to get back on track after scoring a season-low six on 3-of-18 shooting. Undrafted rookie Christian Wood finished with 15 points and eight rebounds.
"More nights than not, we're not going to go away," said coach Brett Brown, an assistant under Spurs coach Gregg Popovich from 2002-13.
Brown's club dropped its first 17 games of 2014-15 and has now lost 19 in a row dating to last season, matching the third-longest slide in franchise history.
The Spurs have won eight straight in the series and 11 in a row at AT&T Center. They've won by an average of 15.8 points since their last loss to the 76ers there in 2004.
"For us, it's the same every game," San Antonio guard and Philadelphia native Rasual Butler said. "We're trying to execute our game plan at both ends of the floor. Those guys are pros for a reason and we're going to come out and play with the same effort."
Leonard had 26 points and 10 boards in a 109-103 road win Dec. 1 in the most recent meeting.