Finally, after a long mid-season layoff, July 30th, 2020 restarts LA Clippers star Kawhi Leonard's journey to become the first-ever player in NBA history to win the NBA Finals MVP award with three different teams.
Kawhi Leonard used the 2019 NBA Playoffs to re-establish his career in a major way. The 2020 NBA Playoffs are an opportunity for him to cement himself as a legend of the league and the game of basketball. After being drafted 16th overall back in 2011 his meteoric rise to superstardom was not expected.
However, he has won titles with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014 and last year with the Toronto Raptors. In 2020, as a member of the LA Clippers, Kawhi hopes to lead his hometown franchise to their first title and his third with a third different franchise. Will or can it happen? It is certainly a possibility.
Here are 5 reasons why Kawhi Leonard will be the first player in NBA history to win his 3 NBA Finals MVP with a 3 different franchise
Kawhi Leonard will be the first player in NBA history to win 3 Final MVP's with 3 different teams because of his health. There have been countless stories about the health of the basketball superstar known popularly as the Klaw.
He is now over two years removed from that injury that cost him 73 games in the 2017-18 season. Last season, after a trade was made with San Antonio, the Toronto Raptors agreed to provide Kawhi Leonard with load management which translated into him resting in 22 of Toronto's 82 regular-season games.
The desired result was achieved as Kawhi Leonard was able to play in all of Toronto's 24 2019 NBA Playoffs games at an elite level. He won the 2019 NBA Playoffs' Finals MVP Award playing exceptional basketball averaging 30.5 assists, 9.1 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game.
Since suiting up for the LA Clippers, Kawhi Leonard has played in 51 of the LA Clippers 64 games continuing the load management started last season in Toronto. Further, Covid-19 will provide Kawhi Leonard with an additional four and a half months of rest he did not get last season.
Considering Kawhi Leonard was seen noticeably limping or physically struggling at times during the 2019 NBA Playoffs, the extra rest this season should allow Kawhi Leonard to go into 2020 NBA Playoffs in better shape than ever.
If anyone thought that Kawhi Leonard was done proving the critics wrong about whether his injury was valid, fully healed or a continuing hindrance when he led the Toronto Raptors to the 2019 NBA Playoffs' crown in 2019, they were wrong. Kawhi Leonard's move to LA Clippers was an indication that he has motivation to be the best player ever .
He is a two-time NBA Champion, a two-time NBA Playoffs Finals MVP and he also added the 2020 NBA All-Star Game MVP award to further cement his excellence in the NBA. When he chose to sign with the LA Clippers in the summer of 2019, he wanted Paul George to join him. This signifies that Kawhi Leonard is thinking big picture in attempting to capture another NBA Title.
While Los Angeles is home for Kawhi Leonard, the LA Clippers are not a storied franchise. In existence since 1970 (originally the Buffalo Braves) the LA have only made 14 NBA Playoffs appearances and only making it out of the first-round five times. Kawhi Leonard did not team up with Paul George to play basketball in obscurity. He intends to win.
As the world gets set to watch NBA Playoffs basketball very soon, Kawhi Leonard is getting set to be the first in history to win his third NBA Finals MVP award with his third franchise.
While Kawhi Leonard is preparing to be the first player in NBA history to win 3 Final MVPs with 3 different teams, his success will be aided by the team he leads. When Kawhi Leonard first gave the world a glimpse of his greatness winning the Finals MVP in 2014, he was surrounded by some great albeit aging players in Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan, and Tony Parker. Last season, in the 2019 NBA Playoffs, Leonard was the undisputed star of the Toronto Raptors with a solid supporting cast of Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, and Danny Green.
Most elite players would likely prefer the San Antonio Spurs team make up when trying to survive the NBA Playoffs grind. With the LA Clippers, Kawhi Leonard can excel as the star of the team without having to burn himself out.
First, Paul George is a great player who this season averages 21 points a game. He was hurt to start this season but like Kawhi Leonard will certainly have benefited from the Covid-19 break. Paul George has been through the NBA Playoffs wars having appeared in 76 playoff games in his career.
Kawhi Leonard will also have the winner of the last two sixth man of the year awards in Lou Williams coming off the bench. Lou Williams will probably be on the floor in the 2020 NBA Playoffs with one of Kawhi Leonard or Paul George. Montrezl Harrell also provides the LA Clippers with 18.6 points a game.
This team has elite scoring that cannot be left unguarded which will mean fewer double-teams for Leonard to face. The LA Clippers are the third-best offense and fifth-best defense in the NBA in 2020 and Leonard plays a huge role on both ends of the court.
As good as the Raptors NBA playoffs run in 2019 was, NBA fans may be in for a treat watching Kawhi Leonard make history as he tries to win third Finals MVP with a third franchise.
Western Conference Competition
Kawhi Leonard's path to achieving greatness in the NBA Playoffs is very probable because of the competition in the West. The NBA's Western Conference has long been considered talent-rich with more elite teams than the Eastern Conference.
However, the path to winning the Ginals in the NBA Playoffs for 2020 out west might be easier than it first appears. Teams such as Memphis Grizzlies, Portland Trailblazers, and Oklahoma City Thunder are not considered serious threats this season. The Dallas Mavericks, Utah Jazz, and Denver Nuggets are talented teams who still must prove they can go deep into the NBA Playoff picture.
This leaves the LA Lakers and Kawhi Leonard's LA Clippers. The real difference between these two teams is chemistry. The Lakers rebuilt their roster from scratch in the last off-season. They did add Anthony Davis and had key players return such as LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma, and Rajon Rondo. Further, they won't have a key member of their roster in Avery Bradley, a strong defender, and replaced him by signing J. R. Smith, who has not played in the NBA since November 2018.
While the La Lakers have the second-best record in the NBA there roster does not have the same unity as the LA Clippers.
Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Patrick Beverley, and Landry Shamet have been together for a couple of seasons at least. The addition of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard added star power to the core nucleus of players on the team. The stars buying into the system is a team with chemistry.
Even if the LA Clippers and Lakers face each other in a 2020 NBA Playoffs Western Conference Final, Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers will be favourites to be the NBA Finalists from the West.
Who is the GOAT?
LeBron James is having a stellar 2019-20 season by his standards. He is averaging 25.7 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 10.6 assists. LeBron James is also 35 years old. Is he still the best?
LeBron James has been to eight consecutive NBA Finals with two different teams (Miami and Cleveland) winning three titles and three NBA Finals MVP awards.
To get to the 2020 NBA Finals, LA Lakers superstar may have to go through Kawhi Leonard who back in the 2014 NBA Playoffs was praised for his defense against LeBron James. If Kawhi Leonard's LA Clippers meet the LA Lakers in the 2020 NBA Playoffs it is probably going to be in the Western Conference Final.
Can a 35-year-old LeBron James handle a prime Kawhi Leonard, who has an even more complete game than he did in the 2014 playoffs? It is possible.
However, Kawhi Leonard, who is an introverted personality, speaks volumes with his game. While LeBron's stats may seem more impressive than Kawhi Leonard's 26.9 points, 5 assists, and 7.3 rebounds, Leonard is the more complete player on both sides of the court.
Kawhi Leonard is focused, motivated, and ready to be the first-ever NBA player to win the Finals MVP Award three times with three different franchises.Published 08 Jul 2020, 14:43 IST