While watching Kawhi Leonard decimate opponents on either end of the floor, if it feels like you haven’t seen many players dominate a post-season quite like the Toronto Raptors star has, it’s because, well, you haven’t.
From historic scoring totals, effective defence and a slew of Raptors playoff records already to his name — with more likely on the way — here’s a closer look at some of Leonard’s many statistical feats from his outstanding 2019 playoff run that has left the NBA and it’s followers asking: is Kawhi the best player in the game today?
31.4: Leonard’s points-per-game total, second only to Kevin Durant (whose status for the NBA Finals is in question due to injury) among active players.
6: Leonard is now one of just six players to ever average more than 31 points per game in a single post-season (minimum 17 games played), joining Jerry West (1970), Michael Jordan (1989, ’91-’93, ’97-’98), Hakeem Olajuwon (1995), Allen Iverson (2001) and LeBron James (2017-’18). He and James are the only forwards to accomplish the feat.
Leonard joins Jordan, LeBron and Olajuwon as the only players to do so while shooting over 50 per cent from the field, and he and James are the only players to do so while also shooting over 41 per cent from deep.
5.4: Leonard’s points-per-game average in “clutch” situations (defined as, at most, a five-point game with under five minutes to play) ranks him first among active players. His 31 shot attempts in the clutch also rank him first, trailed by Steph Curry (27).
3.5: Leonard’s win share total this post-season, tops among any player in the NBA (Denver’s Nikola Jokic ranks second at 3.1).
.260: Perhaps a more accurate reflection of his impact on a game-to-game basis, Leonard’s win shares per 48 minutes.
For context, a player has reached a 3.5 win share and at least .260 win shares per 48 minutes in a single post-season 23 times in league history, with the honour being shared among just 10 players, who happen to be absolute heavyweights of the game: Tim Duncan (2003), LeBron James (2009, ’12, ’14-’18), Dirk Nowitzki (2005), Michael Jordan (1989-’91, ’93, ’96, ’98), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1974), Jerry West (1968-’69), Larry Bird (1986), Kobe Bryant (2001), Wilt Chamberlain (1964), Magic Johnson (1987) and Shaquille O’Neal (2001).
Not bad company to keep.
7: Following Game 5, that’s the number of 35-point games Leonard has this post-season. Per ESPN‘s stats department, the only other player in the last 20 seasons to reach the 35-point mark that many times in a single playoff before reaching the Finals is LeBron James.
6: Per NBA.com, going further back, Leonard’s seven 35-point games pre-Finals makes him just the sixth player to ever accomplish the feat, adding his name to another list of luminaries: Elgin Baylor (1961), Bernard King (1984), Michael Jordan (1989, ’90, ’92), Hakeem Olajuwon (1995) and LeBron James (2009, ’17, ’18).
Leonard’s statistical accolades already rank right up there in Raptors playoff history.
142 and 62: Aside from scoring, Leonard’s rebounds and assists totals also rank him among the top 10 of Raptors’ career post-season leaders. And he’s done so in just 17 games.
26: Leonard’s total steals this post-season. One more steal and he’ll be third all-time in total steals in Raptors playoff history.
2.3: Leonard’s three-pointers per game this post-season, making him the Raptors’ all-time leader. He’s third in total threes as well.
And then there’s the defence. When it comes to slowing down the NBA’s most destructive force this season, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Leonard is a class above the rest: