I can't say how much I appreciate the way that FiveThirtyEight handles sports and statistics. They bring academic rigor as well as a serious appreciation for athletics like few others, and Neil Paine's latest article continues in that tradition while highlighting, once again, the unique greatness that is Kawhi Leonard's game.
Curry has emerged as the face of the 3-point revolution sweeping across the league in recent seasons... But Leonard doesn't symbolize some broader trend threatening to transform basketball, primarily because he's far too unusual for anyone in today's NBA to measure up.
Paine begins by looking at the best shooters in the league and notes how Kawhi stands out among them.
That Leonard rates so well in non-shooting categories is basically unheard of for a marksman of his caliber ... unless you consider Larry Bird.
That's quite a comparison, bringing up a legend like that, but it gets better.
Bird's 1979-80, '84-85 and '85-86 seasons are the only ones remotely comparable to Leonard's 2015-16 in terms of all-around versatility. Nobody else comes close.
That doesn't mean Leonard is a perfect analogue for Bird, but it does underscore the rarity of his talent and the infrequency with which a world-class shooting stroke is packaged alongside other elite basketball skills.
As I often say when drawing attention to an article you may not have already seen -- the whole post is worth reading. Leonard is nothing but an exceptionally rare talent, and understanding his place in the league at large, as well as in the history of the game, is a pleasure to keep up with.