Charles Barkley: ‘Kawhi Leonard is the Best Basketball Player in the World’

by January 15, 2016

For the first time in many years, LeBron James’ long reign as the NBA’s top player appears to be in danger, with challenges coming from the likes of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Anthony Davis.

Charles Barkley introduced a new contender for the proverbial throne Thursday night: Kawhi Leonard. Sir Charles argues that Curry may be the L’s best offensive player, but that Kawhi’s two-way dominance separates him from the pack.

LeBron gave plenty of props to Tim Duncan following the San Antonio Spurs’ 99-95 win against the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers, but hilariously wouldn’t bite when asked to compliment The Claw.

Per the NEOMG:

“Kawhi Leonard is the best basketball player in the world,” Barkley said, stunning the other former players on the set. “Steph (Curry) is the best offensive player in the NBA. LeBron was the best for the last 10 years or more. But at his age, I would take Kawhi Leonard over any basketball player in the world right now.”


The Spurs’ current best player, Kawhi Leonard, hasn’t quite reached that status. Leonard, who scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in his matchup with James (James posted 22 points, seven rebounds, and five assists), is the reigning defensive player of the year, is averaging a career-best 20.2 points in his fifth pro season.


A San Antonio-based reporter tried to get James to speak to Leonard’s growth as a player, and James was having none of it. […] “Is that like a trick question,” he said. “I think, if you look at anyone in our league that gets more and more of an opportunity, their game gets better. That’s no different from Kawhi, no different from myself, no different from Steph, no different from Kyrie (Irving), it’s no different from Kevin Love and Tim Duncan and Tony (Parker). If I asked you if do you see a difference in Tony from his first year to now, it’s the same answer. Guys get an opportunity and guys put in the work and that’s the result of it.”