Spurs defense is BAD with Kawhi Leonard and ELITE without him shows advanced metric

I have no idea how to make sense of this, but there have been some theories floating around about why there is a defensive metric that shows the San Antonio Spurs defense is actually bad when Kawhi Leonard is on the court. And that’s not all.

The Spurs defense actually becomes an elite defense – according to the numbers – when Kawhi Leonard is off the court. Some hoop heads have suggested that this could be because teams are actually isolating Leonard so that he’s completely on the other side of the action from where the play is being ran. Others have said that this is the result of losing Tim Duncan and that Pau Gasol is the direct correlation of this.

I suspect things will even out, but the other end of this metric is quite flawed. See, Kawhi plays nearly 34 minutes a game, so you can only use about a 14 minute sample size – which would be against team’s second units, as your comparable measure. Yeah, there might be a few varaibles here worth mentioning.

Anyway, check out the stat from CBS Sports:  (CHART BELOW)

That’s right, the Spurs’ defense gives up the most points per 100 possession, is at its worst statistically, when Leonard is on the floor. I know that sounds crazy, but those are the numbers. San Antonio is significantly worse — 14.8 points per 100 possessions, to be exact — when he’s on the floor. In other words, they go from downright bad on defense to elite when Leonard goes to the bench.

MIN DefRtg MIN DefRtg
Kawhi Leonard 322 91.5 782 106.3
Tony Parker 719 99.5 385 106.0
Pau Gasol 526 97.3 578 105.8
LaMarcus Aldridge 414 96.1 690 105.3
Danny Green 722 101.2 382 102.5
Manu Ginobili 732 102.7 372 99.8
Nicolas Laprovittola 952 101.5 152 102.5
Davis Bertans 908 102.2 196 99.6
David Lee 719 103.1 385 99.1
Patty Mills 559 105.4 545 98.0
Kyle Anderson 829 102.2 275 100.0
Jonathon Simmons 671 110.2 433 93.1
Dewayne Dedmon 858 105.4 246 88.7