How Kawhi Leonard steals so many rebounds



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ALL THE Back in the first game of the NBA Finals, before the Toronto Raptors are stunned by the two-time defending Golden State Warriors champion, one of the games illustrates the most underrated aspect of the game. estimated absurd absurd of 2019 from Kawhi Leonard.

The Warriors had scored a few baskets to reduce their deficit to eight points and desperately needed a stop to stay on course – and it seemed like they were about to get it. Stephen Curry forced Kyle Lowry to compete for a fadeaway from the left elbow just before the timer expired.

But by the time Lowry let out his shot, Leonard was rushing just above the top of the 3-point arc to catch the offensive shot in the restricted area. The game ended with a foul from Draymond Green, sending Fred VanVleet to the line for free throws that sealed the result.

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Kawhi Leonard rises and grabs the offensive rebound against Andre Iguodala at the end of the fourth quarter.

It's easy for a sequence like this to get lost, especially Leonard. Compile his games and his most impressive achievements this post-season and he would not even sniff the list: he does not compete with the dynamic historical drummer who struck to win the seventh match of the semi-finals of the Conference of the # 39; Is. We can not eclipse the way he returned to the final phase of the conference after limiting Giannis Antetokounmpo to 20 points per game on 43% of his shots in the last four games of this series. This is not as impressive as the 30 points or more that Leonard has cumulated 14 times since the start of the playoffs.

But it would be a mistake to overlook Leonard's 47 offensive rebounds in the playoffs, which ranks third overall. And this number does not account for what is perhaps the most extraordinary of the impact that he has had as a rebounder.

To understand this, one must take into account the number of times the 27-year-old star has started painting to catch a young man whom he has nothing to do in the first place.

Until now, in the playoffs, Leonard has managed 12 offensive rebounds, a league high, in which he had to move more than 15 feet from the position he stood at the time of the shot, according to one analysis. of SportVU data from Second Spectrum. This is more than twice as much as the nearest player and accounts for more than a third of all the offensive boards of the missed jumpers that he has grabbed.

2019 in series Total off. reb. hors les horsiers of. reb. move more than 15 feet Pct.
K. Leonard, TOR 35 12 34.3%
T. Craig, DEN 20 5 25%
A. Aminu, POR 25 5 20%
J. Butler, PHI 20 4 20%
P. Siakam, TOR 29 5 17.2%

And much like this game towards the end of the first game, a number of Leonard's offensive off-beat rebounds took place during the most critical moments of the playoffs.

Consider the fifth match against Milwaukee Bucks: Up to a point in less than two minutes, Leonard threw a triple from the left wing and, feeling that he had missed it, rushed to the goal under the ledge, beating a crowd for the ball. Antetokounmpo, whistled for a foul just after the rebound, clapped his hands, frustrated. Leonard made both free throws to bring his team's lead to three, with the closest Milwaukee getting the rest of the way, while Toronto held on to win the pivotal 105-99.

Then, in the sixth game of the series, with a minute to go and the five-minute Raptors, Leonard dipped from the free throw line to capture a little lack of Pascal Siakam – again, offering not only a game winner, but also a bullet that he was not supposed to secure.

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This past week Leonard was quizzed on an old saying turned viral of the university – "The head of the board is paid" – and presented his views on the value of the rebound.

"I used to say that when I was in high school and college, I just wanted to go to that league," said Leonard. "It's fundamentally hard to work hard, face the opponent, rebounds help you win games, big rebounds, offensive rebounds, limit the opponent to one shot." C & # 39; was our motto, some of us at the university were trying to reach this point.

Now that Leonard has arrived at this point, he has become such a dominant presence that even the most routine rebound opportunities are not safe for the opposing defenses.

If you do not put a body on Kawhi Leonard, you will pay the consequences. Nathaniel S. Butler / NBAE / Getty

Take possession of the third quarter of the third game of the Eastern semifinal against Philadelphia 76ers. About 30 seconds after the start of the period, Lowry drove to his left around JJ Redick, but left a short game. Redick protected Lowry against the check, and Philadelphia point guard Ben Simmons was there to recover the ball and get back to the ground. But apparently out of nowhere, Leonard shot in the lane and got his big left hand on the ball, controlling it for himself and for Toronto.

So, how does Leonard do that? Its enormous wingspan – a remarkable range of 7 feet 3 inches on a frame of 6 feet 7 inches – and its strength are obvious factors, and its speed in a split second surprises many opposing players. But it is also wise to know the right time to take this type of risk. especially against a team like the Warriors, which posted the highest percentage of goals scored during the transition in the regular season.

The Raptors coach, Nick Nurse, says that he has only one rule in offensive rebound: his players must be decisive to avoid getting caught in a no man's S, in a place where they have neither the ability to influence the glass nor the possibility of being caught. back in defense. And Leonard excelled at that. He chose to pitch the boards from 15 feet about twice as much as the average NBA player this post-season, but he managed – and got boards from that distance – almost 39% of the time. This is well above the league average of 30% on such attempts at offensive twists.

The indicators indicate how much Leonard's approach – and by extension, Toronto's approach – fits well, even when he's playing.

Request Danny Green, his teammate of Leonard for eight years, and he will say that he is not surprised when he sees a blur of the size of Leonard flying in front of him to steal an offensive rebound. But what about sagging shoulders and distorted faces that he then sees from the defense? Green says it never gets old.

"These games completely change the energy, the flow and the dynamics – they are winning games," Green said. "It takes their lives away every time he does it."

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