Kawhi Leonard and the LA Clippers are in a funk right now, and ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith believes the two-time Finals MVP needs to step his game up. The Clippers, who are under a lot of pressure to win a championship this season after choking in the 2020 playoffs, have lost four of their last six games.
After the Clippers got destroyed by the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday, Stephen A. Smith went off on Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers on Monday’s edition of Stephen A.’s World.
The Clippers have to win a title this season
The Clippers had a 3-1 lead against the Denver Nuggets in the 2020 Western Conference Semifinals. All signs pointed toward Kawhi Leonard and Co. facing LeBron James and the LA Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
However, the Clippers blew a 3-1 series lead to the Nuggets and became the laughingstock of the NBA world. Leonard and Paul George failed to score a point in the fourth quarter of Game 7 against the Nuggets, and George hit the side of the backboard on a wide-open 3-point attempt from the corner.
The Clippers and Doc Rivers parted ways after the playoffs ended. Tyronn Lue replaced Rivers, and the Clippers signed Serge Ibaka after losing Montrezl Harrell to the Lakers in free agency.
After defeating the Dallas Mavericks on Monday following their terrible loss to the Pelicans the night before, the Clippers improved to 26-15, which is good for fourth place in the West. However, Stephen A. Smith wants to see more from Kawhi Leonard.
Stephen A. Smith calls out Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard is putting up superstar numbers this season. He’s averaging 26.4 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 4.8 assists.
However, the Clippers don’t look like title contenders, and Stephen A. Smith believes Leonard needs to do more. The passionate ESPN pundit called out Leonard on Monday for not winning enough since coming to LA.
“It’s time for Kawhi Leonard to get a whole bunch of attention pushed in his direction,” Smith said. “That’s right, I said it. It’s time for him to step up. A lot was expected from Kawhi Leonard when he arrived in Los Angeles. A lot was expected from the Clippers because of him. A lot was promised because of him. But so far, it’s been disappointing.”
Stephen A. wants to see Leonard and the Clippers face LeBron James and the Lakers in the 2021 playoffs. The Lakers are in third place in the West and one game ahead of the Clippers in the standings.
We’re used to seeing Stephen A. Smith call out LeBron James on ESPN. However, ever since the Clippers choked against the Nuggets, Stephen A. has been going after Kawhi Leonard since the two-time Defensive Player of the Year didn’t deliver the goods in 2019-20.
This could be Kawhi Leonard’s final season in LA
If the Clippers come up short again in the 2021 playoffs, Kawhi Leonard could be on a different team next season. The All-Star small forward is widely expected to decline his $36 million player option for the 2021-22 season and enter free agency after this campaign.
Leonard is one of the best players in NBA history. However, even he may not be able to defeat the Clippers curse. LAC has never made it to the conference finals or NBA Finals in franchise history.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.