Kawhi Leonard is one of the biggest stars in the NBA right now after all the good things he did with the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors in the past couple of years. Leonard’s rise to stardom wasn’t easy; he had to develop and work on his game year after year until he became the two-way machine he is right now. He must have learned a lot during his younger days, as Leonard spent some time with some of the best players in NBA history.
The Klaw started his career playing with one of the best franchises in the history of the league, going to two Finals and winning one title. After that, he joined the Toronto Raptors and had success with the Canadians in only one season. Now with the Clippers, he’s trying to do the same but nothing is certain here: Kawhi Leonard has never played for a bad team in his NBA career.
Redditor “NextMention10” took notice of this and the fact that the Klaw has never played on a bad team during his 9-year NBA career. Even as a role player, he was accompanied by some of the biggest names in the game.
This is not a Kawhi hate post, but I think this is something that is not talked about nearly enough with him. The greats like Kobe, MJ, and LeBron played on some horrid teams and they could all will their teams to the playoffs with huge carry jobs. Kawhi was drafted into arguably the GOAT coach, and had several HOFs surrounding him like Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, and Tim Duncan. He then had LMA, a perennial All-Star, and some of the best role players in the game during his Spurs’ tenure, such as Mills, Diaw, prime Danny Green, and Belinelli.
1st year: Averaged 7.9 ppg as a role player and the Spurs finished with the number 1 seed in the west.
2nd year: Averaged 11.9 ppg as a solid starter and the Spurs finished with number 2 seed in the west.
3rd year: Averaged 12.8 ppg as a solid starter on the team and the Spurs finished with the number 1 seed in the west. Won finals MVP that year, although he was one of the weaker finals MVPs in history averaging 17.8 ppg in the finals.
4th year: Became the best player on the team. Averaged 16.8 ppg, and won DPOY. Spurs were the 6th seed in the west and still had a great roster.
5th year: Started breaking 20+ ppg and started to become a much more refined offensive player. Won his 2nd DPOY. Spurs finished 2nd in the west with a 67-15 record, had a great roster, and were favorites to beat the Thunder, but they lost in the 2nd round to them in 6 games.
6th year: 2016-2017 Spurs. They finished 61-21. Again, they had a great roster and looked like the only team who could challenge the KD Warriors.
7th year: Only played 9 games, but the Spurs still finished as the 7th seed in an extremely deep west without Kawhi playing 90 percent of the season
8th year: Forced his way out of SA. Was instantly traded to a contender in the Raptors, that finished 1-2 seed every year, but could not get over the hump. He had one of the best coaches in the game in Nick Nurse and a stacked roster in: Lowry, Siakam, Gasol, Ibaka, FVV, Green, Powell, and OG (although he missed the playoffs). He won the championship this year and people crowned him as the best in the world. The Raptors finished as the 2 seed, despite Kawhi load managing several games. This Raptors team also happened to have the 2nd best record in the NBA in the 2020 NBA season, and they took a great Celtics team to 7 games in the 2nd round of the bubble without Kawhi on the roster.
9th year: He did not resign with the Raptors. Instead, he demanded PG13 gets traded to the Clippers before he signed with them. PG gets a shit ton of slander, but PG just finished 3rd in DPOY and 3rd in MVP voting in 2019. He was legit before the shoulder injuries. The Clippers were the title favorites the whole year and they were even favored over the Lakers. They had one of the deepest rosters in the league: PG, Lou Williams, Harrell, Beverly, Zubac, Morris, Shamet, and Harkless. They blew a 3-1 in the second round and they had a double-digit lead in games 5-7. Kawhi scored 0 points in game 7 4th quarter and he did not close out the series, like the best player in the world would.
So no, Kawhi is not on LeBron’s level. He is not even close. He is not as good as Curry or KD either in my opinion. He has had the luxury of playing with great coaches, organizations, and rosters his whole career. Kawhi has never had to carry a team like some other legends have done.
As this person said, it doesn’t look like Kawhi has done a similar job like LeBron James and Michael Jordan had in the past leading their teams to a championship, but he has won the title and is keen to do it again with the Clippers. After last season’s fiasco with the Clips, Leonard is ready to demonstrate he can take this team to the promised land and that is indeed a heavy load knowing the Clippers’ history in the postseason.