NBA

1 Way the Clippers Take After Kawhi Leonard

Some people may know Kawhi Leonard as “The Claw.” This talented NBA player has spent the past few seasons entertaining and impressing the public. Leonard’s remarkable game and skills are what led him to this point. Leonard immediately became the Clippers’ best player when he joined the team in 2019, and now his teammates are taking after him in one crucial way.

Leonard’s journey to the NBA

Since high school, Leonard has always demonstrated an extraordinary and promising talent on the basketball court. Leonard’s journey to the NBA began back when he first started playing college basketball. He played at San Diego State from 2009 to 2011, and he helped the Aztecs secure a spot in the NCAA tournament two years in a row during his time there. SDSU also won consecutive conference championships with Leonard on the roster. No one was surprised to see Leonard abandon his final two seasons with San Diego State University to move on to the bigger and better things.

The Pacers took Kawhi Leonard at No. 15 overall in the 2011 NBA draft, but he never played for Indiana. As this process often goes, Leonard ended up getting traded shortly after to the San Antonio Spurs. 

Leonard’s career with the Spurs got off to a phenomenal start. Though he didn’t officially receive the award, Leonard earned a significant amount of votes for Rookie of the Year after his first official season. During Leonard’s second season with the San Antonio Spurs, he helped the team battle to the 2013 NBA Finals. Though Miami Heat won the title, it was a noteworthy season and game for Leonard. The next year, he helped lead the Spurs to a title and earned Finals MVP honors in the process.

Kawhi Leonard’s arrival in L.A.

Kawhi Leonard may be new to the Clippers, but he's already rubbing off on his teammates, who have taken after Leonard in one crucial way.
Kawhi Leonard directs traffic for the Lakers. | John McCoy/Getty Images

Many factors came into play to lead Leonard to Clippers. An injury and the way the Spurs handled his recovery led Leonard to seek a trade after the 2017-18 season. 

The Toronto Raptors traded for Leonard In July 2018. It turned out to be a one-season rental, but what a season. After years of postseason futility, he helped the Raptors win their first championship over the Golden State Warriors. Not long after the championship parade, Kawhi Leonard left for Los Angeles.

How the Clippers take after Kawhi Leonard

It is surprising how quickly Leonard made an impression on the Los Angeles Clippers. His reputation for strong defense is definitely rubbing off on the team. One key way the team takes after its star? It feels intimidated by no one.

Kawhi Leonard has received multiple MVP awards; his poise and confidence are helping the team maintain the MVP mindset. One thing that Leonard can effortlessly do is protect leads by racking up an astronomical amount of points himself. Leonard did a great job of this against the L.A. Lakers on Christmas Day.

The Clippers, usually second fiddle to the Lakers in the Los Angeles basketball hierarchy, weren’t intimidated when they played their crosstown rivals on Christmas. It might have been the biggest game of the season to that point for the Clippers, but they remained poised, just like Kawhi Leonard does when he’s in the spotlight.

“The Clippers showed that nothing about playing LeBron and the Lakers fazes them,” Andy Nesbitt of For the Win wrote. “Leonard had a monster night, scoring 11 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter. Montrezl Harrell had 18 points, Paul George had 17, and [Patrick] Beverley was his normal big-play self on the defensive end … It’s very clear that a healthy Clippers team with all of its players in the mix are an extremely difficult team to beat. They have all the makings of being the championship team that we expected coming into the season.” 

The Los Angeles Clippers were able to acquire and implement Leonard beautifully this past season. NBA fans cannot wait to see how the playoffs pan out and where the future will take Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers.