LA Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard got snubbed from ESPN’s All-Decade Team

LA Clippers Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images)
LA Clippers Kawhi Leonard (Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images) /

ESPN released their All-Decade team today, but LA Clippers star Kawhi Leonard was noticeably left off their five-man roster.

Ahead of the New Year, ESPN released its All-Decade Team, a five-man lineup consisting of who their experts deemed the best five players of the 2010s. The lineup consisted of Stephen Curry, James Harden, LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Anthony Davis. Notably missing from the list was LA Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard.

There are some players on the list that absolutely make sense. LeBron James, for example, is an absolute no-brainer. The same can be said for Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. There could be an argument for someone like Dwyane Wade over James Harden, but I understand that pick. The only pick I (among others) don’t understand is Anthony Davis over Kawhi Leonard.

Okay, I get that the experts were given the task of picking a starting five, meaning that they absolutely had to select a center and Kawhi fell behind both LeBron and KD this decade. I’d like to remind you though that Anthony Davis has maintained that he dislikes playing center, so why does he get shoehorned in as one here?

If that’s your only argument and you want to get semantic, then I’ll concede. Let’s at least look at the two players’ stats over the decade though.

  • Kawhi Leonard: 30.9 minutes, 18.1 points, 49.2 FG%, 38.2 3P%, 6.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.8 steals, 0.7 blocks

  • Anthony Davis: 34.6 minutes, 24.0 points, 51.6 FG%, 31.0 3P%, 10.5 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.4 steals, 2.4 blocks

Per 36 though, the numbers become a lot more comparable. Kawhi’s scoring goes up to 21.1 per 36 minutes along with his rebounding (up to 7.5) and his assists (up to 3.0). His steals also increase to 2.1.

AD, on the other hand, stays fairly similar. He does see a 0.9 bump in points per game and a 0.4 and 0.1 increase in rebounds and assists respectively, but since he was nearly at 35 minutes per game for the decade, the numbers don’t differ all too much.

I’d also like to point out that the two players’ stats are over nearly the exact same amount of games. Leonard was drafted in 2012 and AD was drafted in 2013. Due to both having various injuries, the two have played 497 games (Davis) and 492 games (Leonard).

The major difference between the two comes down to the postseason. Bill Simmons sums up the argument pretty simply. (He corrected himself in a follow-up tweet that Kawhi only beat LeBron once in The Finals.)

It’s really that simple, right? Yes, AD has better regular season stats, but he only appeared in 13 playoff games during the decade. Granted, Kawhi Leonard was traded to the San Antonio Spurs immediately after being drafted and had a better organization and structure around him, but he shouldn’t be penalized for his circumstances.

Winning two championships during a decade is absolutely nothing to sneeze at. Doing it with two separate teams is even more remarkable. Shouldn’t that at the very least be worth an honorable mention?

If so many players are going to be judged based on their postseason success, then why shouldn’t Kawhi Leonard be rewarded for his?

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