Kawhi Leonard grew in stature when he won the Championship with the Toronto Raptors in 2019. He ended a 24-year wait for the Raptors and led them from the front. However looking at his performance Los Angeles Clippers decided to bring him in and build a strong squad around him to challenge for the title.
Leonard’s first season at the Clippers went completely opposite of what people thought it would be. Plagued with team chemistry issues, dressing room drama the team suffered a second-round defeat against the Denver Nuggets. Former head coach Doc Rivers was relieved of his duties after the embarrassing result and it was a period where Leonard had to take the charge to maintain parity in the team but unfortunately it didn’t happen. However this season, the Clippers are in a much better position and even Leonard’s outlook as a senior player has also changed.
According to teammate Serge Ibaka, Leonard has become more vocal this season. He said, “Yes I see him more vocal than the first year I played with, in Toronto. This year he’s talking more, he’s involved more. I can see he’s really learned from last year. He’s trying to be a good leader this year by showing examples first.”
The Clippers are off to a good start and out of 28 matches, they hold a record of 20-8. However, the exceptional Utah Jazz has simply not allowed people to look elsewhere other than them. The Clippers have missed Paul George in eight games this season and it has not helped the team. When both Leonard and George play together which has happened in 18 games, then the Clippers have only lost thrice. So they need both their leaders on the court day in day out.
Leonard has shown that he has that ability to lead a team not filled with stars when he won the title with the Raptors and there is no reason why he cannot repeat that again with the Clippers. The change in his approach will help Tyronn Lue’s men and may take the team to greater heights making them serious contenders.