Kawhi shows the world he is not 'the man'
After his exploits for the Raptors last season, 2019/20 was supposed to be Kawhi's season. His first year as 'the man', his first year as the most feared player in the league and his first year leading the favourites to win an NBA championship, but he CHOKED!
Last season was exceptional for Kawhi, he was the dominant player in the playoffs following a great but restricted regular season but we were kind of all waiting for him to slow down, lets be honest. He didn't however and won Toronto their first NBA championship.
Now he was the man, the one to watch, so he decided to make the switch to the big city & the big conference, joining the LA Clippers in free agency after deciding against teaming up with LeBron, AD and the Lakers. The Clippers wanted to make a statement and after signing Kawhi quickly put together a trade to bring Paul George to LA too. There was no stopping the Clippers, they were now the team to beat in the West and the favourites to win it all, with Kawhi as the leader.
Leonard averaged 27 ppg, 7 rpg and shot a career best 89% from the free throw line during the regular season as the Clippers finished second to the Lakers in the West with a record of 49-23. However, as we all know the playoffs are where legends are made and despite still dominating the stat sheet, The Klaw's legend status crashed and burned in the post season.
Leonard is arguably the best defender in the NBA but defence went to hell after going up 3-1 against the Nuggets. The Clippers blowing a 16 point lead in game 5, a 19 point lead in game 6 and a 12 point lead in game 7. Of course that's a mark against the whole team but especially the two time DPOY and leader of the team.
Kawhi was still the best player on the court for LA throughout their playoff run but when you are 'the man', the pressure is always high. When your team is looking to close out a series it is your job to step up & make clutch plays and when its game 7 in the conference semi-finals, it is 'the mans' job to put his team on his back and dominate every aspect of the game. Instead, Kawhi went 6 for 22 from the field for just 14 points in the decider with Denver. He was now a LeBron looking to his Kyrie and Love, Paul George & Lou Will. That duo combined for just 17 points. The Nuggets were the better team in three straight games and Jokic & Murray were the elite players in game 7.
In conclusion, Lebron James is the guy, Kevin Durant is the guy, Michael Jordan was the guy, Kawhi Leonard is just 'a guy'.
Paul George proves he's a flopper once again:
Paul George was touted as the superstar in a nothing team while at Indiana but when he got his switch to a challenger, in OKC, he had his chance to show what he was really made of. Back to back seasons of regular season domination followed and people thought they were starting to see the real PG13 but disappointing playoff performances each season led the world to realising.... PLAYOFF PG doesn't want to know.
He was still the man Kawhi wanted to form the ultimate two way duo but once again the playoffs rolled around and he wasn't up to it. After serious struggles in the Dallas series, he appeared to be back in his groove heading into the series with Denver. He flaked once again and when it came to closing out the series(the ultimate test of the elite) after taking a 3-1 lead, he had no answer.
Game 7, the time when legends are born and the greats step up, Paul George puts up 10 points. Making just four of his 16 shots and not managing a field goal in the fourth quarter. Regular season greatness is all well and good but if you want to be remembered as one of the best you have to step up in the post-season. Guess Paul George never heard that cliche.