Kawhi Leonard is without a doubt one of the best five players in the world and this generation of players. After Leonard signed with the Clippers post-2019, there were talks of him getting his third ring, becoming one of the greats, and so on. However, Leonard’s Clippers disappointed this year, bowing out to the Nuggets in the second round. In the 2020-2021 season, Leonard has the opportunity to bounce back with a vengeance, and lead the Clippers to the Finals.
Kawhi Leonard has the ability and the skill to be the best player in the world. Leonard is a two-way wing with elite shot creation: his midrange jumper seems like it goes in most of the time. Leonard is only 29; he is in the midst of his prime and has time to add more accolades to his legacy. At the end of Leonard’s career, he could be viewed as one of the GOATs. Here is how Kawhi Leonard could put his name into the discussion for the GOAT title.
5. Win Two Or More Regular Season MVPs
Kawhi Leonard has the talent and the mentality to be the best player in the league. That has shown up with his Finals MVP trophies: we all know that Leonard can show up when it matters. However, Leonard has not yet gotten a regular-season MVP: that is something that could yet happen. If the Clippers are in first place in the Western Conference, and Leonard puts up good counting stats, then the award would be his to lose. Most consensus GOATs have at least one or more MVP trophies. If Leonard wants to be part of that pantheon of greats, then consistent performance over the regular season will be vital to securing that ascension.
If Leonard wins two or more MVPs then his legacy will be cemented even further. That would show a period of dominance, rather than a couple of good years. Leonard has battled injury earlier in his career and thus missed some prime years to establish his position in the league. However, on the Clippers, he could easily win more MVPs and show why last season he was being compared to LeBron James.
4. Win Against LeBron James and Kevin Durant
The only two people that most people would consider to be better basketball players than Kawhi Leonard are LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Leonard has already beaten James once in the playoffs, but that was with the Spurs, on a team with future HOF players. Kawhi Leonard did win his first Finals MVP award due to his stellar defense on LeBron James. Kevin Durant has a 12-8 win record against Leonard in the playoffs. Were the Clippers to meet the Lakers or the Nets in the Finals, then those games would have high stakes for all-time rankings.
The pathway to superstardom and glory goes through Kevin Durant and LeBron James. They are the biggest stars of our generation. Kawhi Leonard could fully join them in the annals of NBA history: but he has to win against them first. If Kawhi Leonard can win against Kevin Durant and LeBron James the next few years, then he could stake a place as one of the best players ever.
3. Accumulate More Stats and Accolades
Kawhi Leonard without a doubt has his trophy cabinet full of awards that he earned during his career. However, at 28, Leonard has only had four All-Star selections. For reference, Kobe Bryant had 18 All-Star selections; LeBron James currently has 16. Leonard is a player of high enough caliber to lead a team to a championship: but in the all-time rankings, every accolade matters. Due to his lower number of All-NBA and All-Star selections, people may hold it against him, citing other players who also won championships, but had those other accolades.
The good news is that a lot of Leonard’s career and prime is still ahead of him. Leonard could easily get three or more All-Stars and All-NBA selections and further add to his HOF resume. Leonard’s game should age nicely and he should have many good years ahead of him to continue to rack up awards.
2. Win Three Or More Titles With The Clippers
Kawhi Leonard left a championship-winning franchise with the Toronto Raptors to go play with the Los Angeles Clippers and try to get them their first championship. If Leonard never wins any titles in Los Angeles, then that will forever be held against him by basketball critics. However, if he wins a lot with the Clippers, the pendulum swings the other way. Leonard could catapult himself above a lot of players in the rankings if he wins three or more titles.
Winning three or more titles would put Leonard at five championships: Leonard would match Kobe Bryant, surpass LeBron James, and be one away from Michael Jordan. Three or more titles is a high task: however that is what it is going to take to increase his all-time ranking. Titles are the eternal goal of an NBA superstar: the more the better. If Leonard gets three titles for the Clippers, expect him to be a culture-changing superstar in Los Angeles.
1. Win Three Or More Finals MVPs
People view Michael Jordan as better than LeBron James because Jordan was a prolific Finals performer. Jordan would always show up in the clutch to perform for the Bulls. Performing in the Finals is one of the big benchmarks in the GOAT rankings: it is why some people disrespect Stephen Curry who has no Finals MVPs. Leonard is known as a clutch performer: aside from last season’s Game 7 against the Nuggets, Leonard has a track record of showing up in the playoffs.
If Kawhi Leonard wins three or more Finals MVPs, then he could easily be viewed as the consensus second-best of all-time. Will Leonard surpass Michael Jordan? Most definitely not. Could Leonard win three titles and three Finals MVPs to shore up his legacy and become talked about in the GOAT discussion? There’s a chance of that happening, and next season could be the start of Leonard showing his status as one of the GOATs.