Behind The ScenesESPN+InnovationNBA

Kobe’s keen observations on Kawhi from the latest “Detail”

Before the Raptors visit the Magic in Game 3 Friday on ESPN, learn what the NBA legend thinks of Toronto forward Kawhi Leonard's game on ESPN+

Before the Toronto Raptors evened their NBA Eastern Conference first-round playoff series with the Orlando Magic at 1-1 on Tuesday, Kobe Bryant put the Detail spotlight on Raptors’ star Kawhi Leonard, following the Magic’s Game 1 win. Leonard had 25 points in the loss and missed a game-tying three-pointer in the final seconds. He responded with a 37-point outing in the Raptors’ Game 2 win.

The Magic host the Raptors in Game 3 (Friday, 7 p.m. ET, ESPN) with play-by-play commentator Adam Amin,  analyst PJ Carlesimo and sideline reporter Jorge Sedano. New episodes of Detail will debut throughout the playoffs on ESPN+.

Here are a few of Bryant’s more interesting insights from the 16-minute “Kawhi” episode of Detail:

Kawhi's as a shooter

A jumper from Leonard, something Bryant has seen improve dramatically.

"Funny thing is, I remember when [Kawhi] first came into the league, I see this young kid out there shooting the ball [in warmups]. . . I'm telling you, Kawhi could not shoot. . .when he first came into the league. But he was there early putting in a lot of reps. A lot of reps, a lot of reps. Now you look at him, his jump shot looks smooth and natural, but this is hard- earned so you gotta tip your hat to that. . . This is a shot everybody says is dead - that mid-range game - this is a layup for him. That's money in the bank."

Taking it to the hole

Bryant praises Leonard's ability to get into the paint and be strong with the ball.

"This is what he's exceptional at, he is extremely strong. Coming into the paint here he uses that left arm to keep separation so the defender can't get to his body. He makes the strong turn. . . he's going to punish the defense and be very physical with you and he's going to get to that cup. . . Whenever Kawhi has the chance he's going to try and run it through you."

his shot

Leonard's potential game-tying shot fell short and Bryant thinks he had more time to get a better shot.

"You have plenty of time here, you've got plenty of time to set your feet and shoot that shot. . . You don't have to rush, he's got enough time to pump fake and take one dribble around him. Plenty, plenty, plenty of time." [Leonard missed, Raptors won Game 1.]

Bonus: Kobe's comment!!

Bryant couldn't resist pointing out where Toronto big man, Marc Gasol, was stationed during this play.

“By the way, I’ve got to say, in today’s day and age. . . Marc Gasol is out at the three-point line. . . Can you imagine Patrick Ewing standing out at the three-point line? Ahhh [SIGH]. . .”

Close