Kawhi Anthony Leonard is an American professional basketball player who is currently contracted to the Toronto Raptors of the NBA. He plays primarily as a small forward, though he is often fielded as a point forward, shooting guard and power forward. His oft-used nickname, The Klaw, originated when fans noticed his hand size (measured 11 inches from tip to tip)
Leonard played college basketball for San Diego State University for 2 years before declaring for the NBA draft in 2011. He was selected by the Indiana Pacers with the 15th overall pick, before the San Antonio Spurs enacted a draft-night trade for him to send George Hill to the Pacers.
Over the last 7 seasons in the NBA, Kawhi has won numerous accolades. He’s a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, a two-time All Star, a two time All-NBA first team selection and was the Finals MVP for the Spurs in their 2014 NBA championship run. He has been selected to the NBA’s All-Defensive teams 4 times, featuring thrice on the first team.
Leonard became the third youngest player to be named as the NBA Finals MVP in 2014 (behind Magic Johnson and Tim Duncan) following a series when he played lockdown defense on LeBron James while averaging 17.8 points per game, including 23.7 points per game in games 3, 4 and 5 which resulted in blowout wins for the Spurs.
Leonard has been called the game’s best two-way player by a number of NBA experts and greats, including Michael Jordan. After initially serving as a role player in a Spurs team comprising of future Hall of Famers Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan, Leonard first rose to national attention following his excellent defensive play in the 2013 NBA Finals. Leonard has raised his scoring average for 5 consecutive seasons, going from 7.9 points per outing in his rookie year to an MVP-caliber statline of 25.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game on an average of 33.4 minutes. Leonard finished second in MVP voting in 2016 and third in 2017.
On July 18, 2018 Kawhi Leonard was traded to Toronto Raptors.