Perhaps lost among the importance of Tuesday’s win over the Cavaliers was Kawhi Leonard’s almost perfect game. It is truly official now that the Fun Guy is making LA Clippers’ basketball fun while cementing his own legacy.
Kawhi Leonard absolutely thrashed the Cavs with a line of forty-three points, four assists, and three rebounds, and it was magnificent. Kawhi was flying up and down the court making blocks and getting buckets as usual, but this game had something very special to it. For the first time in LA Clippers’ history, a player managed to score forty plus points in under thirty minutes.
The last time Kawhi scored his career-high of forty-five was against the Philadelphia 76ers and that was a thirty-eight minute effort. It only took Kawhi twenty-nine minutes to book a forty-three point game this time. Despite a bit of a streak this season where Leonard found himself in trouble missing some threes and not getting important baskets, he seems to be playing as well as ever.
Surprisingly enough, Kawhi is ninth in the league in points per game at 25.8 and is enjoying a very similar season to last in which he won a championship. A .454 field goal percentage, a .346 three-pointer percentage, and 25.8 points per game have helped the Clippers greatly. Kawhi is only .8 percent off from his points per game number of last year, so there is plenty of time yet to match his career-best.
Kawhi is also only .2 percent off from his field goals per game last year, so the picture is clear that this is prime Claw that we are watching. Compared to the great Michael Jordan, Kawhi’s 25.8 points per game is only 4.3 percent off from Jordan’s PPG when he was twenty-eight, the same season in which he would lead the Bulls to their first NBA championship against the Lakers. And for those that don’t believe that Kawhi plays enough minutes, Jordan played an average of 38.8 minutes that season while Kawhi is only 6.6 minutes off at 32.2 minutes.
Just for those who would like to believe that LeBron James is better than Michael Jordan, the number comparisons there are much the same. At twenty-eight, LeBron was averaging only one point more than Kawhi in 5.7 minutes more per game. LeBron also had better percentages in field goals and yet he is still just one percent better than Kawhi this season. Both are obviously great players and have made LA the spotlight of the basketball world, but it is undeniable that the Kawhi Leonard we are watching is truly special, even compared to the ranks of two of the greatest twenty-eight-year-old players there ever were.
In closing, the legacy of Kawhi Leonard is one that LA Clippers fans are very fortunate to be witnessing and it truly marks a new era in Clippers basketball. Whether it is putting up forty-three points in just twenty-nine minutes or grabbing crucial buckets to win a game with only twenty-something points, Kawhi is doing something special in every game that he plays. Enjoy it, Clipper nation.