I keep asking myself this because I understand Kawhi Leonard is a top 5 player in the NBA right now and in the eyes the best player in the game which I disagree with, that crown still belongs to LeBron James in my personal opinion. Paul George was brought over before Kawhi Leonard signed and I’ve never been the biggest Paul George
fan. Sure he can get you 20-40 points a night but during his years on the Pacers I was trying to figure out is he an elite scorer and elite defender or just a really good scorer and elite defender? I think he is a really good scorer and elite defender, not an elite player in my opinion and certainly not someone I want to rely on in a big game.
I think everyone glosses over Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and what he brought to that Clippers team last season as a play-maker,versatile defender, and as a rookie he was low key the Rookie of the Year in my opinion and will be one of the top point guards in the game for years to come. When you got a player of Kawhi Leonard’s caliber coming over to the Clippers you have to give up something great and that was Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Both the Lakers and Clippers have sacrificed pieces of their young cores to compete for championships over the next 2-3 years. Immediately others say “Well they won 48 games and pushed the Warriors to 6 games with Durant,Curry,Klay,Green, and Iguodala on the other end so if we add Kawhi and George to that group we should be elite”. I disagree and the reason why there are no play-makers on this team, I love Landry Shamet as a floor spacer and defender but he’s the huge x-factor not George and Kawhi.
We all know Patrick Beverley can not be relied upon to create shots for his teammates and Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are pretty decent passers but are more known for their defense and ability to get you 25-40 points on the other end. Most would say well if Paul George is able to win a title this coming season with Kawhi Leonard what does that say about Russell Westbrook who couldn’t get past the first round with him for 2 consecutive seasons? If Kawhi wanted to win more championships I think staying with Pascal in Toronto was the answer not LA, I’m sure Las Vegas has the Clippers as the favorites but from a basketball standpoint and the roster they have I just don’t see them winning it. I’ll warn you Kawhi Leonard has a player option for the last year of his deal so there is a chance he might bolt elsewhere if he does not win in LA over the next 2 seasons, but I am glad the Clippers were able to right the ship coming off the CP3,Blake,DJ, and Redick era which resulted in regular season dominance but playoff failure.
The Clippers do not have much of a front-court, Harrell has one heck of a motor on both sides of the ball alot like Draymmond but who is stepping up beyond Kawhi? These past Finals Fred VanVleet,Kyle Lowry, and Pascal Siakam stepped up when needed and aided Kawhi against the Warriors when he could not buy a shot. NBA fans are under the impression that Kawhi Leonard is now some dominant scorer, don’t get it twisted he has made massive strides from strictly off the ball player who would play elite defense and shoot jumpers off screens to a player who controls the basketball up-top for over 6-7 seconds now. I like that they robbed the Lakers of Zubac and they re-signed JaMychal Green to join Montrez Harrell in the front-court but who is stepping up in the playoffs when Kawhi Leonard goes cold throughout the playoffs?
What guarantees Kawhi Leonard wins the NBA title if Klay Thompson does not get hurt going up for a dunk over Danny Green. He was on his way to 40+ points and had 30 points on 8-12 from 3-point range, oh yea Stephen Curry,Klay Thompson, and Draymmond Green are still around and who knows what those 3 would have pulled off had Klay Thompson not got injured. With those 3 dialed in you can not sleep on them and yes the margin for error isn’t as great with Kevin Durant leaving for Brooklyn but the core pieces are still there. Throw in a fresh LeBron James with a motivated Anthony Davis eager to start winning championships and Kawhi Leonard has his hands full this coming season. The Jazz are scary as well, they are one of the most disciplined defensive teams in the league and added scoring and floor-spacing in Conley,Bogdanovic, and Green over the off-season. I want to say the Rockets but I am just not sold on Mike D’Antoni managing James Harden and Russell Westbrook through a playoff run.
To conclude because I hate to sound redundant sure I would not be shocked if Paul George actually proves me wrong this coming season and sheds the overrated label I have for him at the moment, the injury is behind him and if he can’t win it with Kawhi Leonard I think it’s time we start labeling him overrated for sure. He is surrounded by arguably the best player in the game and one of the best coaches of all-time in Doc Rivers who won a title with the 2008 Boston Celtics as a head coach. Doc Rivers has not had this much talent since he coached Rondo,Pierce,Garnett, and Allen through multiple deep playoff runs and an NBA title 2008. This is a different challenge for Doc though, can Doc bring the superstar out of Paul George to beat the Lakers in the playoffs? I wouldn’t bet on it.