Stephen A Smith and Colin Cowherd have loudly proposed that Kawhi Leonard should go to another team. Here are 3 reasons why he shouldn’t.
The LA Clippers staged their first Conference Finals appearance in franchise history this year. There was a point in these playoffs when they looked like favorites to emerge from the Western Conference. Unfortunately for them, they got bitten by the injury bug much like the Lakers.
Kawhi Leonard was on track to put up a playoff campaign of a lifetime together. A look at some of Kawhi’s stats from this postseason is truly eye-opening.
The Klaw’s basic stats – 30.4 points, 7.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.1 steals per game – are spectacular as such. But they hardly tell the whole story of just how dominant he was in his first 11 playoff games.
Kawhi made mincemeat of practically any coverage thrown at him. He never got any sort of tunnel vision with the ball, unlike in the past. He passed out of tight corners, facilitating teammates and getting them involved.
When you put Kawhi on Luka Doncic or Donovan Mitchell, there was a visible change in how much better the Clippers’ defense looked. Conversely, when Kawhi would get the switch to one of these 2 young stars, you knew he was going to attack.
I could go on for 10,000 words about the ways in which Kawhi was a gift for the Clippers. But you get the drift, right?
My idea is to lay out exactly how the Clippers are the best match for Kawhi, so here it goes:
#1 Clippers have a top-5 front office in the NBA
Jerry West has impacted every organization that he’s worked for. He’s helped set up dynasties with the Lakers, and he got the Grizzlies into title contention.
He then moved to the Warriors and played a crucial role in transforming them into the juggernauts they were. He’s now making a difference to the Clippers’ front office, and he has the full backing of Steve Ballmer.
The Clippers made some of the best roster moves by any front office all year long. They got Reggie Jackson back, acquired Luke Kennard and Serge Ibaka and then signed Cousins to a vet minimum.
All 4 of these signings were crucial to their Conference Finals run. They demonstrated through the course of this postseason that they’re the deepest team in the league in terms of talent spread. And they have the brains in their front office to keep it that way.
#2 Kawhi Leonard is a California guy through and through
Through 74 seasons of play, the NBA has never had a Finals MVP who didn’t re-sign with his former team. Kawhi, however, is built different. This man played at SDSU because he wanted to stay close to his family. That was the same reason he didn’t return to Toronto in 2019.
It’s going to be really difficult to create a setting so attractive to Kawhi that he’d leave California. Given his decision to leave Toronto to go back home as a reigning champion, it is hard to envision him moving again.
#3 Kawhi Leonard has an easier route through the Western Conference than the East
This might not have been the case for any of the past 23-odd NBA seasons, but it is now. The Clippers are built to battle and outlast every juggernaut out West.
They have big men in Ibaka and Zubac who’ve displayed their prowess in playoff settings already. Their wing depth is truly second to no one. Paul George has proved to be one of the most reliable running mates in the league in this year’s playoffs.
A playmaking point guard is their most crying need, and one they’ll need to address in the offseason. But otherwise, Kawhi has all the tools he could ask for to try and get to the Finals – fitness permitting.
The @LAClippers Paul George & Kawhi Leonard are the third teammates in NBA history to each score at least 20 points in the first 11 games of a postseason.
— Justin Kubatko (@jkubatko) June 15, 2021
A move to the Eastern Conference with Miami doesn’t make that much sense. The Brooklyn Nets are sitting in wait to dethrone the Milwaukee Bucks next year.
Given all of the stability that Kawhi has in LA, it would not be the utilitarian move to change teams this offseason.