Doc Rivers Explains Kawhi Leonard and His Leadership is Benefitting LA Clippers

Published 08/12/2020, 4:50 PM EDT


LA Clippers are having a mixed Orlando Bubble experience with 3 wins and as many losses so far. They are second to the Lakers in the Western Conference standings and still face a threat to their position to the #3 Denver Nuggets. 

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Their best game by far came against the Dallas Mavericks when Kawhi Leonard dropped 29 points along with Paul George’s 24, and Marcus Morris’s 16. Ivica Zubac got an impressive 15 rebounds and 21 points to add in just 24 minutes. Kawhi is averaging better points in this regular season than he ever did in his entire playing career. However, the head coach has something extra to add to this.

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LA Clippers head coach on Kawhi’s leadership skills

Doc Rivers told in a very recent interview, “It’s really his leadership is by example. I mean, he obviously talks a lot on defense, does a lot of things there. But I just think his work ethic, the way he approaches the game and how business like he is, gives your team a calm, almost. I think that’s been very effective.”

A very defining stat can help us understand Kawhi’s improved leadership. It is not just that Kawhi’s scoring ability has improved multifold, reaching a career-high 27.1 points per game. His assists average per game has also improved from just 1.1 in his rookie season to as high as 4.9 in the running season. That is a colossal jump, even if you compare it from last year’s 3.3.

Something interesting happened in 2016-17 when 18.2% of San Antonio Spurs’ shots were assisted by Kawhi. His 2017-18 season remained the worst when he could play just 9 games because of a serious quadriceps injury. But besides that, he has improved big time as a playmaker. In 2019-20, with the Clippers, he has assisted 26.2% of the buckets made by his teammates when he was on the court playing. This adds to his leadership and how much his team wants him to stay around.

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Clippers are very strong on the card

The Clippers are one of the strongest sides with a very deep bench capability. Montrezl Harrell recently joined them in the bubble, and so did Lou Williams this past week. Montrezl might get to play one seeding game before his side marches into the playoffs. He is a potential winner of the NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award, too.

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They have very consistent performers in the likes of Paul George, JaMychal Green, Ivica Zubac, and Reggie Jackson who are consistently scoring in double digits in almost every game. They were doomed with some inconsistencies at the beginning of the league, but appear more stable now. Let’s see how their final two seeding games go.

They next play an important game against the Denver Nuggets on August 12 at 9:00 PM ET.

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Sourabh Singh

1630 articles

Sourabh Singh is an NBA sports analyst for EssentiallySports, who has been working with the site since May 2020. Prior to this, he functioned as Managing Editor at WittyFeed, followed by a stint at Decathlon. The Sports Management graduate leads an active lifestyle, veering to the mountains for off-trail adventures.

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