"The block is what makes him special," Gregg Popovich said after Monday's victory over the Houston Rockets, which saw Leonard drain the game-winning shot before coming up with a game-saving block on MVP candidate James Harden.
"Harden makes threes, Kawhi makes threes, this guy makes threes, that guy makes threes, Steph makes threes," Popovich added. "Everybody does that, but I don't know who goes to the other end and does what he does. Not that many people, on a consistent basis."
Leonard, the reigning, two-time Defensive Player of the Year and 2016 MVP runner-up, has thrust himself back into the MVP discussion with a monster week that included four 30-point games and a litany of clutch buckets.
"He handles the responsibility well. Most importantly, he knows that things are not always going to be positive in the sense of win, lose, or make or miss a shot," Popovich told ESPN's Michael C. Wright.
"And that's what's been very good about him because some people don't understand that, and they're afraid to have that responsibility night after night after night. You think of Kobe (Bryant), you think of LeBron (James), you think of Michael (Jordan), and you think of all these guys that had to do that. They got to the point where they realized the shot wasn't going to go down all the time, or they might even turn it over. But they come right back. They don't shy away the next time. They want it again. Kawhi has that knack. He has that ability, and that's important because very, very few people have that."
Leonard, a two-time All-Star, is averaging 26.3 points, six rebounds, 3.4 assists, and 1.9 steals on a career-high True Shooting Percentage of 61.7 to lead the Spurs to a 49-13 record.