Last season the Toronto Raptors took a chance on Kawhi Leonard completing a trade with the San Antonio Spurs. The risk obviously reaped the reward as the Raptors won their first ever NBA Championship behind the leadership of Leonard. The tides have changed for the Raptors, however, as Kawhi has now signed with the LA Clippers in free agency.
This summer the LA teams got serious star power. The two teams are now in a “win now” situation with two very deep teams. Anthony Davis coming to the Lakers was as public as ever with his agent being one of the most powerful ever in Rich Paul. However, no one saw the Kawhi move coming. Leonard said he wanted another star to join him on the Clippers. Paul George was later traded for, in a mind blowing acquisition seeing the Clippers give up seven picks. With that being said, has Kawhi set himself up for a repeat?
One Step Ahead
The Raptors limited Kawhi’s playing time to suit his interest following a rough year with injuries. However, Leonard had a team in Toronto which didn’t need him to play mind blowing minutes. The team had Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka, Danny Green, and veteran center Marc Gasol added at the trade deadline. With the personnel such as that, the Raptors had enough to win the title.
Many people now believe that Kawhi has set himself up for success once again. The “little brother” LA team acquired two new fresh stars whom could very well be the duo they need to win a title in the coming years. The Clippers defense will be the best in the league. Alongside Leonard and George, Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, and Montrezl Harrell will be important role players contributing to the defensive end.
The defense is pristine, however how about the offense? Kawhi is the best two way player in the game today, and combining him with Paul George they will be a top five duo in the NBA. George was an MVP finalist last year playing with injured shoulders. Assuming everything goes well with surgery, George should be an even better player this year. With a deep team such as the Clippers, it is starting to sound like deja vu for Kawhi.
Overcoming the West
The Western Conference of the NBA has a lot of new faces coming in and new teams being born. There are 10 teams who could make the playoffs this year alone. The teams in the West feel as if the conference is as open as ever this coming season and for good reason.
The Golden State Warriors lost the finals last year and superstar Kevin Durant to free agency. To add to their losses Klay Thompson went down via injury in game six of last years finals and is likely to miss the whole season. With the West being open the Clippers are expected to be a top team.
The Clippers aren’t alone in the race to the top of the West. Their same city rival, Lakers, have the best duo in the league with Lebron and Davis. Other teams that have improved this offseason include Rockets, Warriors, Trail Blazers and the Jazz. Overcoming the newly instated duos in the league will not come easily. Making this a huge chance for Leonard to cement his legacy and leave his desired mark on the league by winning back to back championships.
The Rarity of Kawhi Leonard
In the age of any sport the media world has taken over. For multiple players the media is a way to build your fan base and establish your personality. Many players love the exposure and look for every opportunity to get their name out their. However Kawhi views this differently and that causes him to stand out among the NBA as well as other sports leagues.
Everyone knows the viral interview and post championship clip from Serge Ibaka. It showcases exactly that Kawhi doesn’t want to live by the media and don’t give much away compared to others. He lets his play do the talking and that’s definitely enough said in his case. The great attitude of Kawhi could absolutely contribute to this Clippers team and help the Clippers nation rise above the looming, Lebron’s Lakers.
Bottom line is everyone is super stoked to find out how the West unfolds and where the Clippers will end up. The multiple questions every fan share will in due time be answered. I personally can’t wait for the most intriguing season in a long time.
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