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Let’s talk about this “best two-way player” business

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If Kawhi Leonard is the consensus for the NBA’s best “two-way player” that’s a short reach from being the sport’s best.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at San Antonio Spurs Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

So Michael Jordan said some nice things about Kawhi Leonard. That was nice. When asked whether Kawhi could score on Kawhi he started with a weak "probably the best" and then immediately followed up strongly with how Leonard is the "best two-way player." Which makes me wonder what’s meant by two-way player, and why that designation is being given to Kawhi so often.

The San Antonio Spurs’ forward has received the Defensive Player of the Year award twice, and he’s been named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team three straight times, so we know he’s recognized as being elite in his own end. On offense, he came into his own this past season and sustained one of the most statistically impressive playoff performances in the history of the league. So his offense is right there too.

The argument has been made (and quite well by SB Nation’s Tom Ziller) that basketball is a two-way sport, so every player is expected to play on offense and defense:

This is the case for Kawhi as the best player in basketball: He is no worse than the second-best defender in the world and among the very best offensive players in the world. If you call Kawhi the best two-way player in the world, you are calling him the best player in the world. The two-way moniker is meaningless in a sport where everyone plays on both ends.

Which brings me to my bottom line on all of this best two-way player nonsense. Everyone wants to acknowledge what Kawhi has become, but no one is willing to say that he’s better than LeBron James.

So let’s discuss what it will take before the conventional wisdom of the NBA’s cognoscenti shifts to the point where people are comfortable dropping LeBron down a notch to call Leonard the best basketball player in the world?