Clippers look to Leonard to raise game in teammate’s absence

Kawhi Leonard, your time is now

Kawhi Leonard

Kawhi Leonard’s role as the focal point of the Los Angeles Clippers’ offense has never been in question. But now with teammate Paul George’s absence, the time has come for him to play like the MVP he has been in two NBA Finals.

Indeed, with George out indefinitely with bone edema – a condition that has no set timetable for recovery – the scoring load has fallen squarely on Leonard’s shoulders. And as of early February he had responded only mildly.

In three games without his running mate, Leonard averaged 26 points, 8 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1 steal per game with just 1.7 turnovers. That’s not far off his season-to-date averages of 26 points, 5.8 boards, 5.1 assists and 1.8 turnovers.

It’s also worth noting that the Clips lost two of those games – to the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers, both teams with unimpressive records – which dropped them out of first place in the Pacific Division behind the Los Angeles Lakers and into the third seed in the Western Conference.

It goes without saying, then, that if the Clips are to survive this period of unknown duration without their No. 2 scoring option, they’ll need their No. 1 to step up and take control as he did for the San Antonio Spurs in 2014 and the Toronto Raptors in 2019 – both championship teams.

Leonard and the Clippers can be seen in action Tuesday, March 2, when they pay a visit to the Celtics in a game airing on TNT.

Player Profile

Full name: Kawhi Anthony Leonard

Birth date: June 29, 1991

Birthplace: Los Angeles

Height/Weight: 6 feet, 7 inches/230 pounds

Team: San Antonio Spurs (2011-18); Toronto Raptors (2018-19); Los Angeles Clippers (2019-present)

Draft: Selected in the first round (15th overall) of the 2011 draft by Indiana Pacers, then was immediately traded to the Spurs

Position: Small forward

No.: 2

College: San Diego State

Honors and Achievements: NBA All-Star (2016, 2017, 2019, 2020); NBA champion and Finals MVP (2014, 2019); Defensive Player of the Year (2015, 2016); NBA steals leader (2015)

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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