Kawhi Leonard is the LA Clippers’ playmaker solution

LA ClippersKawhi Leonard (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
LA ClippersKawhi Leonard (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

With a lack of a true playmaker being one of the knocks on the LA Clippers heading into the season, it seems Kawhi Leonard has stepped into the role.

When the roster finally came together for the LA Clippers, there were two apparent holes that the team would need to address – rim protection and the lack of a true playmaker. Thanks to Kawhi Leonard, the latter problem may already be solved.

Sample size be damned. In his first three regular-season games for the Clippers, Leonard has shown a remarkable improvement in his playmaking skills. The 28-year-old has never averaged four assists or more in his career, but if these first few outings are any indicator, he may be well on his way this season.

In the season opener versus the Los Angeles Lakers, Leonard dished out a cool five assists. While a few passes here and there were noticed, more was made of the team’s all-around performance. In his second game, versus the Golden State Warriors, Leonard set his career-high in assists with nine. His prowess in the pick-and-roll was extremely noteworthy here and he and Ivica Zubac already look to have solid chemistry. The next game, he surpassed that career-high by one, racking up ten assists in a losing effort against the Phoenix Suns.

Per game, he’s creating an average of 23.0 points through assists. This could be even higher, should the team start hitting more of their shots. Leonard is averaging 12.3 potential assists per game. That’s to say, he’s finding teammates in the right spots. Both numbers are team highs.

The numbers don’t paint the whole picture though. Leonard has never been thought of as any sort of playmaker, but with the league adjusting to his scoring threat (26.0 points per game this season), this became a necessary evolution. With shooters often surrounding him on the court, Leonard will have to continually make the right play.

Next. Clippers' chemistry appears to be on the rise. dark

At this early juncture in the season, Leonard does have the ball in his hands more than he will once Paul George returns. Defenses will have to adjust and Leonard may not be forced into passing as often. Still, we now know he is more than capable of making the right play. This new facet to his game makes him an even bigger threat and should help solve, or at least mask, one of the team’s perceived holes.