Toronto Raptors: Kawhi Leonard’s playoff run is one of the greatest of all-time

TORONTO, ONTARIO - MAY 25: Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ONTARIO - MAY 25: Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors – Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Two-Way Domination

It’s one thing to be playing elite basketball on one end of the floor, but Kawhi is doing it at both ends. He has been the most important piece of a dominant defense.

Leonard has always been known as a two-way player, but in the postseason, he has taken it to another level. On many nights, Kawhi has had to guard the opposing team’s best offensive option, and he has done a great job shutting his assignment down.

The 1.6 steals per game average don’t give the full picture of the effectiveness the Klaw has had defensively. He has been a nuisance for his matchups, making them put up difficult shots and be careless with the ball.

His impact was the greatest during the Eastern Conference Finals. When the Raptors placed Kawhi on Giannis, it turned the series around. Giannis averaged just 15.1 points per 100  against Leonard, fewer than half as many than the next closest defender.

It’s hard to put into historical context just how great Kawhi has been defensively, but his impact has been felt regardless.

There hasn’t been a player in NBA modern history, who has scored at the level Kawhi has while also shutting down the league’s likely* MVP on the other end. Until Kawhi, who is carrying not only a team but an entire country on his back.