For the second time as a Clipper, and the seventh time overall, Kawhi Leonard has made the All-Defensive team. He was the final selection on the 2020-21 second team with 43 points alongside Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler, Joel Embiid, and Matisse Thybulle.
Leonard averaged 1.6 steals and 0.4 blocks per game during the regular season. The team’s defensive rating improved by 1.2 points per 100 possessions with Leonard on the floor, per NBA.com. His advanced stats were unspectacular, but Leonard remains one of the league’s most singularly destructive forces on the defensive end when he is locked in. That became abundantly clear in the playoffs when Leonard took the task of defending Luka Dončić at the end of the first round, and in Game 3.
“I just know in the playoffs, the last two games against Luka, games 6 and 7, he’s the primary defender on the ball, you see who Kawhi Leonard is,” Ty Lue said after Leonard received the honor. “I think you saw the last game against Donovan Mitchell, taking a challenge, a one-on-one guarding him, you see what kind of defender he is and what he does defensively.
“So I don’t think we call him first-team, second-team, third-team; it’s about when you need the guys the most can they produce and can they get stops when you need them to. And that’s what he does for our team.”
This is the third consecutive season and fourth all-time that Leonard has made the all-defense second team. He was a first-team member from 2015-2017 and the league’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016.
This year’s first time was comprised of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Rudy Gobert, Draymond Green, Jrue Holiday, and Ben Simmons.