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Nick Nurse explains how Kawhi Leonard uses his huge hands to drain impossible shots


Having huge hands has negatives and positives, but it seems it’s all upside for Kawhi Leonard. Phil Jackson put MJ over Kobe because of his “big mittens,” and Nick Nurse explained how Kawhi has the same type of advantage.

Kawhi’s advantage - size and strength of hands

On the Old Man & The Three podcast hosted by JJ Redick and Tommy Alter, the Toronto Raptors head coach shared how Kawhi Leonard uses his huge hands to his advantage. For the record, Kawhi’s hand length measures 9.75 inches and spans 11.25 inches. For comparison, an NBA player with the same size as Leonard has hand measurements of 8.8 inches and 9.5 inches.

In the interview, Reddick recalled how Leonard managed to shoot two different types of shots with different defenders and convert them. 

"There was a shot early in the season, maybe in December against the Portland Trail Blazers," Redick said. "He was shooting over a small player. He was probably at 15/16 feet and not 20 feet. At the end of the game and it went in. Very similar shot. The guy has an unnatural spin on the ball or something because both of those shots looked like they were going to be short."

Yep, he does. I mean, you’ve seen the size of his hands and the strength in them and the way he snaps his wrist. And he literally gets all his shooting power and I would say a lot of the forces in his wrist and fingers. Makes that thing really turn.”

Nick Nurse, ">Old Man & The Three

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The Clippers star’s massive hands come in handy, especially on defense. He can block shots with just his finger, grab the ball mid-air or snatch the ball away like it was nothing. At his defensive peak, just dribbling the ball near Kawhi was a very risky proposition.

Kobe wished he had bigger hands

Those who can palm the ball have more options to score or defend. Even talented scorers like Kobe Bryant wished his hands were bigger. Michael Jordan could palm the ball with ease. Thus, he had an array of acrobatic layups and dunks in his arsenal.

Even if The Klaw has big hands, he only ranked 9th among the biggest hands in the NBA. Per How They Play, the top five are all big men, with Rajon Rondo making the list in 15th place.

  1. Boban Marjanovic: Estimated to be 10.75/12 inches
  2. Shaquille O’Neal: Estimated to be 10.25/12 inches
  3. Giannis Antetokounmpo: 9.85/12 inches
  4. Gregory Smith: 9.8/12 inches
  5. Connie Hawkins: 10.5/11 inches
  6. Noah Vonleh: 9.75/11.75 inches
  7. Julius Erving: Estimated to be 9.5/11.75 inches
  8. Michael Jordan: 9.75/11.375 inches
  9. Kawhi Leonard: 9.75/11.25 inches
  10. Wilt Chamberlain: 9.5/11.5 inches
  11. Royce White: 9.5/11.5 inches
  12. Wayne Embry: Estimated to be 9.25/11.75 inches
  13. Elgin Baylor: Estimated to be 9.75/11 inches.
  14. Jahlil Okafor: Estimated to be 9.5/11.25 inches
  15. Rajon Rondo: 9.5/10 inches

Leonard is blessed with big hands, but having them doesn’t automatically mean a ticket to stardom. Large hands usually impact shooting - try nailing a shot with a tennis ball, and you’ll come close to understanding how Shaq felt at the free-throw line. Landing in San Antonio, working with Chip Engelland, and most of all, putting in the hours helped Kawhi turn his weakness into his strength.

Recent reports say Kawhi’s recovery from the ACL tear is ahead of schedule. Hopefully, he comes back stronger than ever and treats us to some spectacular basketball.

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