When the Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard to a 3-year, $103 million deal back in the 2019 offseason, they were hoping he would be the leader they were lacking to deliver that elusive NBA title. Of course he isn’t alone as the Clippers also traded for Paul George to make a dynamic duo, yet their first year together in Los Angeles did not go as hoped. The pair of super stars let a 3-1 series lead and a chance to advance to the Western Conference Finals slip right through their hands.
This year, Clippers are still considered favorites to win it all and currently sit in third place in the West. Leonard along with George have left last postseason’s woes behind them. Both were selected to take part in the 2021 NBA All-Star game. For the most part, Kawhi has played like an MVP, except when it comes to playing in clutch moments.
According to Chris Broussard while on The Herd with Colin Cowherd, he believes the added pressure is getting to Leonard.
“With Kawhi, I think the next level for him is can you win with the pressure of high expectations. Because San Antonio, he wasn’t under any pressure, Toronto he wasn’t under any pressure because it was a one year rental and nobody expected anything from the Raptors alright. Now he comes to the Clippers . . . and now the pressure of expectations are on him.”
There’s no denying that Leonard has talent and is one of the game’s brightest stars today. You can take a look at his career and see how clutch he has been. However, he’s been far from it this season as he’s only managed to produce a 28% feel goal percentage in clutch moments.
Worst FG% in the Clutch this season
(Min. 20 FGA)
Derrick Rose – 18.2%
Kemba Walker – 20%
Dillon Brooks – 23.8%
Kawhi Leonard – 28%
Buddy Hield – 29.2%
Brandon Ingram – 29.7%
Lonzo Ball – 30%
Malik Beasley – 30%
Tyler Herro – 30.4%
— NBA Central (@TheNBACentral) March 1, 2021
While there is plenty of season left to improve in that department, last year’s playoffs didn’t offer a lot of hope for this year. To be fair, the Clippers as a whole have been struggling to close out games this year. They’re 5-8 in such scenarios. There’s certainly a lot of blame to go around, but whenever you’re top guy disappears in these crucial moments, there’s a problem.