Kawhi Leonard - Midrange Mastery 18/19
- Published on Nov 18, 2019
- Kawhi Leonard. 2x NBA Champion. 2x NBA Finals MVP. 3x NBA All-Star. 2x All-NBA First Team. 2019 All-NBA Second Team. 2x Defensive Player of the Year. 3x All-Defensive First Team. 2x All-Defensive Second Team. Only the THIRD player to win Finals MVP with two different teams (LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). His playoff run was legendary, not only because he brought an NBA championship outside of the United States for the first time in history, but because he had the third greatest single postseason scoring run in the league (link below): Kawhi scored 732 points, LeBron James in 2018 scored 748, while Michael Jordan in 1992 had an unreal 759.
Anyway, let’s not mince words here: there are so many Kawhi-lights and multiple different parts of his game on BOTH sides of the ball that I decided this would be a nice little piece to an expansive puzzle. Let’s start from the ground up: Kawhi’s footwork is fantastic, his balance is brilliant, his ability to decelerate is dangerous, and he is so strong that it is STUNNING how guys just bounce off of him. Whether he creates or absorbs contact, he is almost always the winner. Whether he uses force or finesse, he’s a phenomenal finisher. Zach Lowe notes in his article (link below): “He is one of two players to have logged at least 1,000 career postseason minutes and shot at least 50% overall and 40% from 3-point range. (Al Horford is the other, at much lower long-range volume.)” He scored at a career-high 26.6 points per game this past season (good for 6th in the league) and upped that to 30.5 points per game in the postseason.
All that is to say that he can score in any kind of way. This video is focused on his midrange game. He was the second leading scorer in the playoffs (just behind James Harden’s 31.6 points per game through 11 games) and the second most efficient player (behind Nikola Jokic), and if you watched the playoffs, you’d know that he looked Michael and Kobe-esque, not just with his ability to just will his team to victory, but also with the array of shots he was taking. Try to chase him off the line? Easy one dribble pullup. Switch a smaller or weaker player onto him? He’s punishing them in the post. Throw a big on him? He’s already around or THROUGH him.