When we talk about Kawhi Leonard, he's the best two-way player in the league and arguably one of the best all-time. It's no secret that Kawhi Leonard is one of the best defenders in the entire league right. He's got the physical capabilities, he's got the mental capabilities, and he seems like he's all over the court when you watch him in a game. So today, what I wanted to do is break down some of the keys that he uses on defense.
So the very first key that we see in Kawhi Leonard's defense is what we call active hands. When he's playing defense on the ball or off a ball his hands are always constantly moving. Now, because he has active hands that allows him to do a lot of things like getting tip passes, steals, blocks all that sort of good stuff, what a lot of players do is when they're on defense they have a tendency to kind of relax and forget about it for a second and a lot of times their hands stop moving but because Kawhi Leonard has active hands it allows him to stay engaged no matter where he's at on the defensive end of the floor. And ultimately make an impact no matter what's happening.
All right so the one thing that you notice about Kawhi Leonard's active hands is they always stay at ball level so no matter where the offensive player puts it either low medium or high, Kawhi's hands are constantly tracing making sure that they're kind of in the area. Because if he keeps his hands close to the basketball a lot of good things happen for him defensively. That's where we talked about the tip passes, the steals, all that sort of good stuff right. So, you notice anytime the ball goes down, Kawhi's hands go down. Anytime the ball goes up, Kawhi's hands go up.
At the next thing you know is Kawhi is a master at eliminating airspace. Meaning the space between his chest and his offensive player's chest. So by closing that gap in eliminating airspace, he makes it really really hard for offensive players to number one, feel comfortable, and number two, be able to maneuver and operate. And that's something that Kawhi is a master at because a lot of times players can close that airspace but they have a tough time staying in front of the offensive players dribble but because Kawhi is so quick so strong and so athletic he's able to do so. Next time you're watching a game notice how much it looks like. Kawhi closes that airspace. He gets nice and tight. And because of that, they can't get a shot up and it makes it really really tough for them to put a dribble down because he's all in their business.
That's the next thing that really takes Kawhi's defense to the next level and really makes him one of the best defenders in the NBA. We always hear that defense is all about an effort to a certain extent. That's completely true and Kawhi does this really really well no matter what happens inside of the game or inside of a play. He never gets up you might see him get beat off of an inner dribble but he's gonna stick with it and stay and maybe get a hand on the ball with a tipped pass, or a strip, or a steal or something like that.
So with Kawhi, no matter what happens, he's never out of the play because of this persistence always allows him to be effective even if he's beat on the initial move. Try to watch Kawhi on defense closely even if he's not guarding the ball. And also watch his effort and his persistence that actually generates a chain reaction through the play so if he's in the help side, maybe not even guarding the ball sometimes, just the movements he does makes the offense take a worse shot or maybe to get worse positioning or something like that. So always keep an eye on them even if he's not on the ball and you're gonna see some spectacular things defensively.
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