So the thought of watching Kawhi Leonard in a Clipper uniform dribbling a basketball is a rare sight. He flopped in The Bubble losing a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in a second-round series where Paul George’s career went in shambles after missing an onslaught of perimeter jumpers. Nikola Jokic picked Montrezl Harrell to pieces from the post and Kawhi Leonard was left with his eyes wide open not believing the Clippers were about to lose a 3-1 lead to a young Denver team on the rise. Paul George made up for his choke job in The Bubble and willed the Clippers into the Conference Finals even after Kawhi Leonard went down with an injury. George fell to Chris Paul’s Suns after Paul annihilated the Clippers with a 48-point masterpiece and was once again decimated with injuries along with co-star Kawhi Leonard.
The Clippers went ahead and brought back center Ivica Zubac who is the perfect center for today’s game being that he can be a threat scoring the ball down low and is a pretty solid shot-blocker and rebounder. The Clippers re-signed Robert Covington which gives them unmatched athleticism and length with George,Leonard,and himself so the Clippers will be able to defend a team like the Golden State Warriors who relies on perimeter scoring practically from Curry,Thompson,Wiggins, and Poole. Kawhi Leonard has had close to 2 years to get himself right mentally and physically and I believe he is coming out with a vengeance next season and will look to make his mark for a franchise which has cursed since they came into existence 30 plus years ago. It was the logo Jerry West’s idea to bring Kawhi Leonard and Paul George together, everything Jerry has touched has delivered success.
Never been a Kawhi Leonard fan but as a LeBron supporter I hold him in higher regard than the likes of Stephen Curry,Kevin Durant,and Giannis Antetokoumpo 3 superstars who often get compared to the Akron Ohio native. Kawhi Leonard produced arguably the most impressive run we’ve ever seen from a superstar on his way to the Finals defeated Embiid,Giannis,and Curry on his way to his second title as the main scoring option. I won’t harp much on the John Wall signing, ultimately I believe Reggie Jackson should continue to start as he proved he could carry the team this past season after Kawhi and George went down and kept the Clippers afloat all season. When I think of Michael Jordan Kawhi Leonard is the one player from this era that comes to mind, not Dwyane Wade,Kobe Bryant, or even LeBron James who has a different play style but Kawhi has all of Jordan’s tools.
Kawhi Leonard has massive hands and can palm the ball just like Michael Jordan, he knows how to get to his spots and does not waste many dribbles the same way Michael Jordan did not. Watching Jayson Tatum’s inability to consistently produce offense in the Finals against the Warriors made me think of Kawhi Leonard as he kept his foot on the gas against the Warriors the entire 2019 Finals despite going ice cold at times throughout the 6 game series. Kawhi Leonard was aided by Kyle Lowry’s contributions as a scorer and play-maker but Kawhi Leonard was destined to win 2019, Jayston Tatum played right into the Warriors hands and never made the Warriors defense respect his isolation game. Kawhi Leonard is a knock-down mid-range shooter, we know Tatum can take you in the post and he has a plethora of moves but he settles for jumpers quite too often.
This Clipper team proved they can win games even without Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, throwing in two elite wings who can get you 25+ points every game and defend at close to an elite level makes them legitimate title contenders next season. Head coach Tyronn Lue is not in the same kind of pressure as to when he coached LeBron James but he is never given enough credit for his contributions, nothing against Doc Rivers who has been the victim of a ton of playoff collapses but Tyronn Lue proved his pedigree and ability to make adjustments after coaching the Cavaliers to a historic comeback 2016 against Golden State. Is Golden State not the biggest threat out West? Lue took them down 2016 and likely would’ve once more had Durant not decided to flip the NBA world upside down 2016, with Kawhi Leonard at his disposal the Warriors better look over their shoulders 2023.