The 2015-2016 NBA Season is just about a quarter of the way through. Steph Curry is the name on every NBA headline. He’s been incredible. The stats show it, the video shows it, and the record shows it. We know how great the dude has been. But, there are other players around the league who have been excellent as well.
One player, who rarely gets his due on the major TV networks has been Kawhi Leonard. It’s not that Kawhi hasn’t been respected or that people don’t know about him, but the way he’s been playing, is just something that must be talked about each and every day.
Look at almost every category, and you’ll see Kawhi’s name up there. Let’s start with the defense, shall we? The side of the ball that we’ve always known Kawhi to dominate.
Out of all starters in the NBA, who have played at least 10 games, Kawhi Leonard is tied for 1st in defensive rating with teammate Tim Duncan:
Oh, not enough to prove his worth on the defensive end? Let’s continue then.
Going off of the same criteria before (starter with greater than 10 games played), only 3 players in the league have forced the person they are guarding to shoot a worse percentage than Kawhi (LeBron, Melo, and Dragic). Here’s that list.
(The stats above are courtesy of nba.com)
You usually start to see players’ defensive numbers dip down a bit as they are asked to do more on the offensive side. That has not happened in the slightest to Kawhi Leonard.
Speaking of the offensive side of the ball, let’s start to look at Kawhi’s numbers on offense.
Let’s start with the general shooting.
Kawhi Leonard is among only 4 players in the league who are averaging over 20 points per game while shooting above 45% from the field and from 3-point land. Stephen Curry, Paul George, and Kevin Durant are the other three.
That’s pretty incredible, to see Leonard’s name among those as an offensive threat. Leonard has improved so much since last season offensively while still remaining as efficient as ever. He’s even turning the ball over less.
Only 5 qualified players in league history have averaged over 20 points per game on a season while sustaining under 1.5 turnovers per game. Kawhi is on pace to be the 6th.
I could continue on about how Leonard is 1st in the NBA in 3-point percentage, top 10 in true shooting percentage, top 10 in steals, 4th best SF in rebounding, 6th in +/-, 1st in the NBA in Defensive Win Shares, 2nd in Total Win Shares, and so on.
(stats from basketball-reference)
I’m not going to do that though because it’ll take up too much of your time.
Instead, I’ll leave you with this one last stat that just shows truly how good Kawhi Leonard has been this season so far:
No qualified player has EVER shot above 45% from 3 point range while sustaining a defensive rating under 95.0. Kawhi Leonard right now is at 50% from 3-point range and has a 92.5 defensive rating.
Isn’t that something.
Keep doing what your doing Kawhi Leonard, and in time, you’ll get the recognition you deserve.