I was recently overly critical of Kawhi Leonard and for that, I apologize, because he proved in the Clippers series win over the Mavericks that he still belongs in any conversation with the best players in the world.
The Clippers were facing elimination and embarrassment and Leonard responded like we’ve seen him do previously in the postseason, while hardly changing his facial expression. The guy is an assassin out on the court and though he may not be a natural playmaker, he makes up for it with the efficiency of his shot-making, particularly from mid-range.
There is an inherent value in his ability to punish teams from the places on the floor where defenses typically want to surrender shots. But there’s almost no such thing as a bad look for Leonard who lit Dallas up to the tune of 36 points per game on 70% shooting in games 6 and 7 with Los Angeles facing elimination. He also became only the fourth player to score more than 200 points in a series while shooting over 60%…which was last done by Shaq!
And oh yeah, he also answered the bell on the other end showing he’s still a two-way player even if his offense has somehow surpassed his vaunted defense.
In the process, Leonard not only saved the Clippers’ season, but this current team’s reputation, and reaffirmed that playoff Kawhi is alive and well.
So, as long as he is in uniform, the Clips need to be taken seriously. Anyone who doubted that, as I did, was wrong.