Marcus Smart is one of the best wing defenders in today’s league, yet he finds Kawhi Leonard to be one of the most unstoppable players he has ever faced. The Celtics two-way star explains what makes The Claw “different”.
Kawhi Leonard is not only one of the best players in today’s league, but also one of the best two-way players in league history. Kawhi can not only completely lock down the opponent’s best offensive player, but can also torch their entire team on the offensive end. And the crazy thing is that Leonard will do the same throughout the game without any taunting expressions or showcasing any raw emotions. In simpler words, Kawhi is a stone-cold killer.
Being one of the most versatile players has really paid off for Kawhi. Over the course of his 10-year career, the “Fun Guy” has built a pretty solid resume at the age of 30. The Clippers star is a 5-time All-Star, 5-time All-NBA player, 7-time All-Defensive player, 2-time DPOY, 2-time Champ and a 2-time Finals MVP.
With career averages of 19.2 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists on an efficient 49.3/38.4/85.8 shooting split, there is virtually no player who has managed to completely shut down the 6-foot-7 forward. Marcus Smart is one of the many great defenders who has tried and failed to try to guard the “Board Man”.
Marcus Smart explains how Kawhi Leonard is one of the toughest he’s ever guarded
In an interview with “The Players’ Tribune”, Smart gave Kawhi Leonard a few high compliments. Apart from lauding the LAC superstar, Marcus explained what made Leonard such a difficult force on the offensive end. Alongside naming Kyrie Irving, Paul George, Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Anthony Davis, Marcus even mentioned Kawhi’s name as one of the toughest players he had to guard.
“In these last few years, he’s developed his all-around game even more. Somehow, he keeps getting better.
Trying to guard Kawhi on an island by yourself is tough. You gotta take the basket away and push him to your help. You want him to take a contested shot as far away from the basket as possible, because his mid-range game is phenomenal. He brought back the 15-footer, no doubt. That’s a lost art in this game, especially in the age of analytics. Everything on paper says the 15-footer is a bad shot. But for Kawhi, it’s money. And he’ll kill you with it if you let him. So all you can really do is get him shooting from distance and contesting it.
But he can still shoot at a high clip from range, so it’s like … what do you do?
I’ll tell you this much: One thing you can’t do against him is take a play off. Because he’ll sniff that out and flip a switch. If you’re playing lazy defense — or if his team is behind, or if it’s late in the game, or if his team needs somebody to make a play — he’ll turn it on. And when he really gets going, can’t nobody stop him.
I would definitely say he’s the most unstoppable player in the league right now. The way he can score the ball at his size — he can take you off the dribble, post you up, shoot the mid-range or shoot the three — it’s wild.
Kawhi is just … different. He’s out of this world.”