Marcus Smart is widely regarded as one of the NBA's most dominant defensive players. In the NBA media realm, it is not uncommon for defensive specialist to be asked which players are their most difficult defensive assignments. Fans and analysts are always searching for insight into a player's perspective, and in a 2019 article for The Player's Tribune, Marcus Smart provided some very detailed analysis.
When asked about the toughest players he's ever guarded, Marcus Smart listed Kawhi Leonard first. Smart told a story about the first time he ever guarded Kawhi, and how his strength was overwhelming. Smart attributed Kawhi's strength to a unique level of raw ability; however, he believes what truly separates Kawhi is the way he has continued to evolve to his game.
Expanding upon what he already revealed about Kawhi, Smart said, "What’s crazy is, in these last few years, he’s developed his all-around game even more. Somehow, he keeps getting better... I would definitely say he’s the most unstoppable player in the league right now."
While Smart gave Kawhi Leonard the ultimate compliment by calling him the league's most unstoppable player, he was not done giving respect to the Clippers. The very next player on Smart's list of toughest players he's ever guarded was Paul George.
Smart spoke about the smoothness of Paul George's game, and how reliant it is on rhythm. He said that "Paul George will stay hot all night if you let him." Those who watched the 2021 playoffs absolutely know this to be true.
After analyzing George's game a bit further, Smart concluded his thoughts on the Clippers' two stars by saying, "When you have Kawhi and Paul George on the court at the same time — two guys who can really score the ball and who you can’t guard on an island — you need to rely on your help... It’ll be interesting to see how they exploit that once they really get going together."
Two years later, the LA Clippers' superstar tandem is still building; however, they have reached some key milestones together. While fans will have to wait for Kawhi Leonard's return, the duo is likely to continue flourishing once they hit the court together again.