Can Kawhi Leonard carry the LA Clippers into postseason play?

Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

There’s no time to waste for Kawhi Leonard and the LA Clippers.

With just eight games remaining of the regular season, the Clippers secured the fifth-best record in the West, all thanks to a crowd-erupting showdown against the OKC Thunder. And behind the driving wheel was none other than the emotionless, lethal scoring machine, Kawhi Leonard.

Despite a dismaying finish to the first game of the Clippers-Thunder doubleheader, Leonard went straight to work in the second. The two-time Finals MVP swung for the fences, knocking down all seven of his first field goal attempts.

He would continue to ride on adrenaline, finishing the game with 32 points on a ridiculous 13-of-15 shooting from the field. Despite what people said about Lu Dort and his defense on Kawhi — humorously dubbed the ‘Dorture Chamber’ — he couldn’t slow down Leonard whatsoever.

This type of offensive display from ‘The Klaw’ could mean two things.

If there was any doubt about whether Leonard could play the same level of basketball we’re used to seeing, there should be none. Don’t be surprised if the superstar takes off and records superhuman numbers in the Playoffs (if the Clips make it, that is). In the 2021 Playoffs, he averaged 30.4 points on 57.3 percent shooting, 7.7 rebounds, and 4.4 points prior to his injury.

More importantly, it could also mean that the Clippers are a formidable team, even without Paul George. It’s clear that the Clippers have a ton of depth, especially at the wing — Eric Gordon is having a solid second run in LA, Bones Hyland is a talented bucket-getter, and Russell Westbrook, Terance Mann, and Norman Powell, when they’re at their best, can win you games.

Kawhi Leonard will flip the switch for the LA Clippers come playoff time.

Perhaps the LA Clippers, with Kawhi Leonard dominating at a high level, are comparable to the 2018-19 Toronto Raptors. The Raptors didn’t have a legitimate second option then — Pascal Siakam was the second-highest-scoring player but averaged less than 17 points. For reference, the Clippers’ sixth-man Norman Powell is logging 16.6 points per game this season.

But Leonard still found a way to carry the Raptors to their first dance at the championship. How? Not superstar firepower. Not pure luck. Just Kawhi Leonard (who averaged over 30 points in the Playoffs) and a surplus of solid rotational pieces around him — the likes of Siakam, Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol, and Fred VanVleet.

Bringing it back to LA, the Clippers, too, have just as many, if not more, offensive and defensive weapons as the Raptors. And most evidently, Leonard has still yet to step off the pedal of getting buckets and winning games.

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