NBA

In Kawhi We Trust?

Gabe Botero | September 19th, 2019 

Is it too farfetched to put all your faith in Kawhi “Fun Guy” Leonard to bring the Los Angeles Clippers their first NBA championship? After all, he was one more errant bounce away in his final shot from losing the series against the Philadelphia 76ers and this wasn’t even the Eastern Conference Finals. I heard many different people say during his free agency that wherever Kawhi goes, a championship will follow but is that fair? Is it fair to put all your eggs in one basket?

I think we saw some of this in the most recent FIBA World Cup. Though Giannis Antetokounmpo tore up the NBA, he was unable to make it to the semifinals in the World Cup. People lamented that he wasn’t able to perform well enough so that the Greek national team could win the tournament. Let me remind you that basketball is a team sport and while having the reigning MVP on your team is a great confidence booster as well as a playmaking booster, there are still four other players on the court.

Let’s translate this back to the NBA; I said before that almost everyone was saying wherever Kawhi (one player) goes, that team (organization) gets a ring. It all rests on Kawhi’s shoulders to propel his Clipper’s team to their first NBA Finals appearance. So, do you trust Kawhi to do the unthinkable?

The answer is: you don’t have to. The rest of the team is more than capable to support Kawhi so that he doesn’t have to do all of the heavy lifting.

The 2019 Los Angeles Clippers scare me in more ways than one. Yes, Kawhi Leonard is the star or at least one of them, but so is an incredible supporting cast and an equally incredible bench. Paul George, Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley, even Montrezl Harrell are obviously not just some names on the roster; they’re names that have proven themselves consistently and efficiently in past seasons.

Everyone is scared of the 76ers and rightfully so. Their potential starting five in Ben Simmons, Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, Joel Embiid, and Al Horford is one big, bad starting five. But that’s it. Once you begin to rotate some of these players out, you’re left with quite a few names that you either haven’t heard of or thought they weren’t playing anymore. “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link” and looking at some of these other rosters, there are plenty of weak links. The Clippers have the least amount of weak links on their roster.

Rosters comprised of 14 players help the team succeed, not single players. That is what is so different about the Clippers. No roster spot is wasted! The front office did such a fiscally fantastic job of spreading out their money that every player is valuable. After looking at the bench’s numbers, here is what stood out to me:

Ivica Zubac was getting almost a double-double in around 20 minutes of play (7.7 rebounds/9.4 points).

Lou Williams coming off the bench and consistently scoring in the 20s as well as adding some well-placed assists and Sixth Man of the Year trophies.

Montrezl Harrell shooting 60% from the field and scoring just under 17 points per game.

And I haven’t even talked about Paul George yet either. Did you know he had the most steals in the entire league last year? Did you know his stat line was 28 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists per game? How about a third in both this year’s MVP voting and Defensive Player of the Year Voting? 1st team All-NBA? If you aren’t already scared, you should be

The list goes on but here’s my point. The Los Angeles Clippers have some great rotational players. When the time comes, Kawhi will turn on his own version of playoff mode and force the West to reckon with the Clippers. Kawhi has yet to be broken by the pressure of competition in the Finals but nevertheless, he has to get there first. He stopped two “Big 3” dynasty teams in the Heat (LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh) and the Warriors (Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green). He brought Toronto its first NBA championship. His list of accomplishments goes on and on.

Kawhi will do his part and his teammates have proven that they can support both Kawhi and Paul George as their dynamic duo. In my opinion, there are only two teams that can prevent the Clippers from winning it all and neither of those teams have LeBron James on their roster. But that’s another article for another time. Will the Clippers pull off something that has never been done before in bringing a ring to the other Los Angeles team? Only time will tell, but there’s a reason that they are favorites in the title race for this upcoming season.

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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