Kawhi Leonard is looking to help the LA Clippers have a bounce-back year. There were high expectations for the Clippers in 2019-20, and they had a great regular season. They didn’t ultimately meet expectations, though, as they lost in the Western Conference Semifinals. Now, as the Clippers get ready for the new season, the team and new head coach Tyronn Lue are giving Leonard close to the same treatment on the court as Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant received from Phil Jackson.
Kawhi Leonard and the LA Clippers look to bounce back in 2020-21
After winning his second career championship with the Toronto Raptors in 2018-19, Leonard joined the LA Clippers in the summer of 2019. The Clippers then added Paul George during that offseason, too, which made them one of the favorites to win the NBA title.
Leonard and the Clippers had a nice regular season. He averaged a career-high 27.1 points per game to go with 7.1 rebounds, and 4.9 assists, earning his fourth All-Star selection. The Clippers also ultimately went 49-23 in the regular season, clinching the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.
The Clippers then defeated the Dallas Mavericks in six games in the First Round of the playoffs. They then took a commanding 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Semifinals over the Denver Nuggets. However, the Nuggets came back and upset the Clippers by winning the series in seven games.
Since that loss, the Clippers have parted ways with head coach Doc Rivers. They now have another championship-winning head coach in Tyronn Lue.
Lue now has an interesting gameplan for Leonard and the Clippers.
Tyronn Lue plans to run the triangle offense with Kawhi Leonard
The Clippers are getting ready for their new season, and, recently, Lue revealed that the Clippers will run “a few sets” of the triangle offense for Leonard this season, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“We have put in two or three sets of the triangle and let Kawhi play in those spaces where Kobe and Jordan played in those spots as well,” Lue recently said, according to the LA Times. “He loves those two players and he really respects and looks up to those guys. So, we just try to put him in position. I was able to play with both those guys and I also played in the triangle, so just trying to teach him that as well … teach our team as well.”
The LA Times also reported that Leonard expressed that he wanted to play in the triangle.
Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant had great success in the triangle
Two of the most successful NBA players of all-time played in the triangle offense for Phil Jackson — Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant. Jackson’s use of the triangle resulted in 11 championships, six for Jordan and five for Bryant.
In Jordan’s first three-peat, he averaged 31.4 points per game and 5.7 assists for the Bulls. He also shot 51.7% from the field. He then averaged 29.6 points per game and four assists in the second three-peat and shot 48.2% from the field. Bryant, on the other hand, averaged 25.4 points per game and 5.1 assists during his three-peat with the Lakers. He also shot 46.7% from the field. He then averaged 26.9 points per game and 4.9 assists during his back-to-back championship winning seasons in 2008-09 and 2009-10.
Kawhi Leonard is one of the best players in the NBA. If he can find success in the triangle, he can become absolutely dominant this season.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference