LeBron James is always challenged and questioned for every single move, loss, or word that comes out of his mouth. It’s always been like that and there’s a little-to-none chance that that’s ever going to change.
However, when it comes to Kawhi Leonard, people seem to be conveniently quiet about his failures, perhaps because there hasn’t been that many lately. Then again, most analysts seem to ignore the fact that he was a massive no-show in the final three games of the series vs. the Denver Nuggets.
That’s’ why Sports Illustrated’s Robin Lundberg went on to elaborate his argument of Kawhi Leonard not being in the same conversation as LeBron James anymore:
“Kawhi Leonard took himself out of the best player in the NBA debate. In fact, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray were the two best players on the floor over both Kawhi and Paul George in the Los Angeles Clippers embarrassing game 7 elimination by the Denver Nuggets,” the report started.
Kawhi’s performance in Game 7 left a lot to be desired, and, according to Lundberg, if you look at his overall career stats, he’s just not quite there with the greatest players of all-time:
“Kawhi went just 6-22 from the field for 14 points with zero in the fourth quarter as his team blew a 3-1 lead, is particularly damaging for Leonard, because he lacks the statistical profile of the GOATs,” he continued.
Kawhi Leonard got a lot of praise for not wanting to team up with LeBron James and Anthony Davis in the Los Angeles Lakers this summer. People thought of him as a winner because he was coming off that Finals MVP run with the Toronto Raptors, plus his first ring with the San Antonio Spurs.
However, Lundberg questioned his true winning nature, playing down both of his Championships. One because of the Spurs winning structure and the other because of key injuries from the Golden State Warriors and LeBron James:
“Much of his reputation was based on a winning mystique. And after voluntarily leaving a championship team and seeing them go just as far as he did the next season, that rep takes a hit, with many now likely to point out his two championships came in the overall structure of the San Antonio Spurs and in a season where both the Golden State Warriors and LeBron James were injured,” he added.
Lundberg continued his argument by stating that Kawhi will have an even tougher time going back to the top of the league now that Kevin Durant is back at full strength and Luka Doncic is taking the NBA by storm, let alone being mentioned in the same conversation as LeBron James:
“And when it comes to being at the top of the league, that is something that will only get harder as the likes of Kevin Durant return and the likes of Luka Doncic emerge. Then there’s the standard that really makes most of the criticism Leonard will receive somewhat unfair, but in order to be considered the best player in the game, you’ve gotta be mentioned in the same breath as LeBron,” Lundberg concluded.
While Lundberg’s take on Leonard may be a little harsh, he does have a point. Maybe we should hold him more accountable for his failures, and maybe he’s had some luck along the way but hey, no one can deny that he’s one of the best two-way players to ever do it, and being lucky is also a part of winning.