NBA Players Comparison: Kawhi Leonard Vs Russell Westbrook

NBA Players Comparison: Kawhi Leonard Vs Russell Westbrook? Despite missing the other three seasons because of a quad injury, Leonard’s draft-day was so amazing that it is difficult to describe. Nothing near captures what the …

NBA Players Comparison: Kawhi Leonard Vs Russell Westbrook

NBA Players Comparison: Kawhi Leonard Vs Russell Westbrook? Despite missing the other three seasons because of a quad injury, Leonard’s draft-day was so amazing that it is difficult to describe. Nothing near captures what the Spurs star did against Memphis in terms of spectacular, overpowering, extraordinary, or historic. That is why, rather than describing him in terms of words alone, I will use numbers to compare Kawhi to his predecessors throughout the postseason, utilizing advanced metrics that try to portray overall performance. Nobody statistic is flawless, so seeing a few statistics together may help you see why expressions alone are not enough for describing Kawhi.

John Hollinger’s PER (Player Efficiency Rating) is perhaps the most well-known PER statistic. This chart displays the PER of all players who have played at least 60 minutes in the playoffs. And this group passes the test of merit, to say nothing of eye appeal. This group would be your choice, in some order (you may also mention Gordon Hayward, whose data are weighed down by his nine minutes played in Game 4, owing to food poisoning), if you watched most of the first round and picked the eight finest players. Two things on this list stick out: Kawhi Leonard is leading the field by a wide margin, and he is also the youngest player in the group.


kawhi Leonard vs Russell Westbrook

Win Shares is a metric that assesses how many wins a player adds to his team. One thing to keep in mind about this statistic is that it is cumulative, so Leonard benefited from the fact that his series went to six games, as shown by players like LeBron James and Stephen Curry, who led their teams to first-round sweeps. With his two Win Shares, Leonard is far ahead of the competition, making it doubtful that those two additional games would have altered this ranking. Again, there is a larger gap between Kawhi and second place than there is between second and tenth.

Finally, Leonard falls to second place in a statistic. This is the NBA Math Total Points Added (TPA) statistic, which you can learn more about here if you are interested. It is essentially another measure designed to quantify how good a player is on both ends of the floor. In terms of TPA, Paul has a little edge over Leonard.

[This chart was produced before the Clippers’ victory night of Friday over the Jazz, therefore Paul now has an advantage in TPA over Leonard.] Westbrook ranks third in this statistic, and for the sake of balance, that is something we should mention. I am a little leery of the “Points Saved Defensive” component of the TPA model, in light of David Lee’s dominance over all Spurs. But in small sample sizes, strange things happen.

NBA Players Comparison

If you have had enough of all these new-fangled statistics, try this one on for size. Among players with a usage percentage of at least 20, Leonard has the highest TS% (True Shooting Percentage) and leads everyone with a historic Points Per Shot of 1.803, which I will get to later.

NBA Players Comparison: Kawhi Leonard Vs Russell Westbrook

What has he done so effectively? He is wreaking havoc from mid-range, to say the least. Of the 24 players who have attempted at least 20 middle-range field goals during this postseason, the rank of Kawhi is second, just behind Kyrie Irving, shooting an unbelievable 62.1% on those attempts.

According to, just over two-thirds of Kawhi Leonard’s field goals have been unassisted, suggesting he is taking a lot of pull-up jump shots. Leonard ranks second in eFG% among the 24 players who have taken at least 30 pull-ups during the playoffs, behind only Steph Curry. He is been successful from nearly every position throughout the playoffs, as his shot chart demonstrates.

Players Intro:

How does Russell Westbrook measure up to Kawhi Leonard in terms of regular-season statistics and the whole? How can we compare player performances from different eras, and will Russell Westbrook’s single-best year stand up against Kawhi Leonard’s best? Which players have the most wins, how many years of experience do they have, and how are their accomplishments stacked up against one another when weighted? Are all victories created equal? These are just a few of the most challenging questions that must be addressed while evaluating players, and we tackle them right here!


In terms of career accolades, Russell Westbrook has three compared to six for Kawhi Leonard. Russell Westbrook has one Regular Season MVP, and two Scoring Titles, while Kawhi Leonard has two Championship and two Finals MVPs, as well as two Defensive Player of the Year honors.

Career Statistics:

The advanced statistical categories go well beyond the basic boxscore data in terms of providing a more detailed analysis of Russell Westbrook’s and Kawhi Leonard’s numbers other than simply comparing them, allowing us to compare the players’ abilities and productivity as well as their team contributions.


To assess the value added by any player in comparison to a replacement-level player, Value Over Replacement Player is utilized. In this statistic, Russell Westbrook has a significant lead over Kawhi Leonard in terms of Value Over Replacement Player, usage %, points, turnovers, assists, defensive rebounds, offensive rebounds, minutes played and the game played.

In the following categories, Russell Westbrook surpasses Kawhi Leonard: box plus-minus, win share, actual shooting percentage, Player Efficiency Rating, blocks, steals, free-throw percentage, effective field goal percentage, and two-point percentage. In contrast to Kawhi Leonard’s 14 distinctions, Russell Westbrook is superior in 12 respects.

Per Season:

Russell Westbrook led in a number of statistical categories in 2009, but he trails Kawhi Leonard by comparison to his 2012 season. Russell Westbrook leads in usage percentage, minutes played, points, personal fouls, turnovers, assists, offensive rebounds, free-throw percentage, and free throws.

Russell Westbrook has a better Value Over Replacement Player, box plus-minus, win share, true shooting percentage, Player Efficiency Rating, blocks, defensive rebounds, effective field goal percent (both players have identical numbers in and steals), two-point percentage 3 point percentage number of three-pointers made, and field-goal percent statistical categories. In general, Russell Westbrook is more recognizable than Kawhi Leonard.

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