Kawhi Leonard is one of the best defenders in the NBA. The 2-time NBA champion has made a name for himself in the league based on his defensive prowess. And over the years, he has become an incredibly adept offensive player as well.
In fact, Leonard's defense was so pivotal, that it helped the San Antonio Spurs win an NBA championship in 2004. Leonard was instructed to guard LeBron James and helped contain him as the Spurs won in 5 games.
For his defensive performance, Leonard was named Finals MVP ahead of some legendary players on the Spurs team like Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. Since then, Leonard has only gone on to improve himself, winning Defensive Player Of The Year twice.
Leonard's defensive dominance comes from his strength. Leonard is one of the strongest players in the NBA, a fact that goes unnoticed by most fans. But two NBA stars got a true understanding of how strong he is.
In an interview for JJ Redick's podcast, Tyrese Haliburton spoke to Redick about Leonard's strength. Redick pointed out that Leonard's body was so solid that he thought he was a robot. As for Haliburton, he didn't even realize Leonard's strength until he actually paid attention to where he ended up on the court.
Redick: “There was a moment in the 2015 first round against the Spurs. Kawhi was guarding me a bunch in that series. It was like a deadball or a free throw. We had an exchange at the previous play. I kind of just walked over to him and I don’t remember what I said but I tapped him on his stomach. And I remember thinking to myself, 'I just touched a robot... This mother*cker is built’. He’s solid.”
Tyrese: “He was my welcome to NBA strength. We played the Clippers in LA. At this point I’m not that high up on the scouting report. Kawhi is like ‘I got him’. I come to get a dribble hand off, and his hand is on my hip, and I’m at the three-point line, I think. And then I get the hand off, I look down, I’m at the logo. I’m like, ‘I don’t even know how I got out here.’”
After leaving the Spurs, Leonard won another championship in Toronto, before joining his hometown LA Clippers to try and win another championship. Kawhi has only gotten better and more physically developed. And many believe that he is currently in his physical prime.