The NBA is full of the most athletic basketball players in the world, and you will seldom find athletes who can run as fast, jump as high, and control people as handily as NBA players do. The list of freakishly strong NBA players is a long one, from Wilt Chamberlain to Shaquille O’Neal to LeBron James; every generation has a few physical specimens that have fans marveling at the athletic potential of the human body. As LeBron James reaches the twilight years of his career, who will take the mantle of “the most freakishly strong player in the league” once he is gone? The answer is none other than The Terminator, Kawhi Leonard.
Tyrese Haliburton recently joined JJ Redick’s The Old Man and the Three podcast, and thanks to fan mail from Slovenia, the crew shed some light on how it feels to be in the presence of such impressive physical specimens.
“It’s not really a feeling of insecurity, but more of how I didn’t realize that this person was this small or that player was that tall.JJ Redick, via The Old Man and the Three podcast.
Redick is being absolutely honest here because you need to have a supreme belief in yourself; there is no room for you to be intimidated by size and strength. JJ does recall a moment with Kawhi Leonard, though, that noticed the strength that the Clippers Forward possesses.
“I remember I had an incident with him, and going down the cour I tapped him on the stomach. That guy is built! He is solid.JJ Redick, via The Old Man and the Three podcast.
Leonard is built like a superhero, with some of the broadest and most defined shoulders the league has ever seen. Of course, the impressive physique does not always translate into strength, but Tyrese Haliburton of the Sacramento Kings jumped in and provided more context of Kawhi’s physical abilities.
“I remember coming off for a dribble handoff on the three-point line, at least I thought I was at the three-point line, then I look down and see I’m at the logo wondering how I got there. He must have pushed me.Tyrese Haliburton, via The Old Man and the Three podcast
Haliburton describes this as his “welcome to NBA strength” moment, and it comes as no surprise that this moment involves Leonard. Apart from Kawhi’s enormous hands and sharp defensive instincts, his physical strength often puts offensive players out of position or gets them off-balanced, creating an opportunity for Leonard to get steals or blocks in significant moments of the game. Leonard’s strength is also something that LeBron James, one of the greatest players ever to play the game, noticed back in 2014.
Could Kawhi be even stronger than LeBron James? Leonard is 6’7 and weighs 225 pounds, while James is 6’8 and weighs 250, but when they go head-to-head, the difference in weight does not seem to be so evident. Twenty-five pounds is a lot to give up, especially in the post, but Leonard can bump bodies and make LeBron uncomfortable despite giving up over twenty pounds. As Kawhi starts to reach his veteran years, I wonder if we will start to see him transition into a more strength-based game, bumping bodies in the post and using his power to create opportunities for himself on offense.
If Leonard wants to continue his amazing scoring performances, he will likely have to get even stronger and more importantly, learn how to use it to his advantage. Kawhi getting stronger is a scary thought for the league, as we already know based on the stories from Haliburton and Redick that his strength is already a problem. What more if he decides to use it to his advantage even more? Well, that would be a great sign