Kawhi Leonard is a good basketball player. In the 2017 playoffs, he is averaging 32.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 2 steals. The most insane part of his four games against the Grizzlies is his efficiency: 40-69 FG (58%), 10-19 3Pt (52.6%), and 40-40 (100%) FT. Seriously, that's insane. For comparison, LeBron is shooting 54%/45%/57% (also insane), Steph is at 40/35/87, and Harden is 43/27/89. This doesn't even take into account how good he is on defense. With confidence, I can say that Kawhi is the best player in the NBA right now.
Mike Trout is a good baseball player. You know this. As I wrote last week, Trout is a traditionally slow starter, so the fact that he already leads all players in WAR (1.9) is very intriguing. Is this the year he tops the 10.8 WAR from his rookie season in 2012?
Other than being awesome at the sport they play, what do Kawhi and Trout have in common? Here's my list:
- They both are 25; Leonard was born in June 1991 and Trout came two months later.
- Each weighs 230 pounds.
- They were well-regarded prospects going into the draft, but weren't picked until the middle of the first round. Kawhi went 15th in 2011 and Trout went 25th in 2009.
- They chose to play for smaller colleges. Trout committed to East Carolina while Leonard attended San Diego State.
- Both had to shed the concerns of evaluators on aspects of their games; people knocked Trout for playing weak competition in New Jersey, while Kawhi only shot 25% from 3 during his two years at college.
- Trout and Leonard were both drafted with picks from other teams. Trout was taken via a compensation pick from the Yankees signing of Mark Teixeira. Kawhi was drafted by the Pacers, but then dealt to the Spurs for George Hill.
- 2011 was the year they made their NBA and MLB debuts.
- In 2013, both played on teams that won 78 games.
- They signed extensions early in their careers. Both will hit free agency in 2020.
- They are superstars that lack dynamic personalities.
The last point is obviously the biggest similarity they share. Trout and Kawhi both are incredibly talented players (maybe the best of their generation), but routinely get overshadowed by players that seek the fame and cameras. Personally, this makes me like them even more; they let their play do the talking and seem to have stable lives off the field/court. No matter how much attention they get now, both guys will end up in the Hall of Fame.
One similarity they don't share—besides the Spurs being way better than the Angels—is their talent at each other's respective sport. Trout seems to have much more natural ability at basketball than Kawhi at baseball, though they both have weird follow-throughs.