[OPINION] Kawhi Leonard Takes NBA’s Iron Throne
For years LeBron James towered above all as the NBA’s greatest player. Although James’s greatness remains a steady component to what allows the NBA to reel in successful seasons year after year, King James no longer deserves this title he’s possessed for nearly a decade. Although LeBron showed little regression signs when looking at his statistics after his inaugural year in L.A., the three–time champ still can only watch these NBA playoffs unfold from his couch, as his lackluster team play and leadership failed to propel the Lakers into the playoffs. Meanwhile Kawhi Leonard spends his nights dazzling fans with his lock–down defense and opponent crushing clutch shots. The time to usher in a new era begins now, as Leonard undoubtedly stands as the league’s premier player, not James.
Leonard’s defensive skills which originally caught Greg Popovich‘s eye in San Antonio primarily separates him from the field. While his offensive numbers reflect similarly to the game’s other titans such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry, Leonard’s defensive abilities accompanied with his offensive excellence allow him to speed by other names frequently tossed around when this debate arises. As already dangerous offensive weapon for Toronto, Leonard already averages 31.8 points on 50.7% shooting during these playoffs. Adding to his incredible numbers stand monumental clutch shots which statistics ignore, such as his rim–rattling and Philly–crushing Game Seven buzzer beater. Meanwhile Leonard stands universally accepted as at least a top three defender within the NBA today, as Leonard locks down those opposing him while also pouring in buckets, which he notably accomplished once again when matched up against Antetokounmpo during the the Easter Conference Finals. While many league talents possess flashy offensive skills earning them spots on our Twitter feeds each night, Leonard accomplishes this while also adding defense to the table unlike any other offensive juggernaut can.
Leonard’s humble attitude compliments his dominating game as well, as Leonard continues to express his team goals, rather than individual. Just after defeating the Milwaukee Bucks and advancing to the NBA Finals Leonard commented on the commotion surrounding him and his stature in comparison to other star players as he stated, “I just want to win, I don’t care about being the best player.” While personality plays no factor in determining one’s individual ranking in the NBA, Leonard’s devotion to team play illustrates his leadership skills, which most definitely contribute to one’s team success.
Perhaps the most impressive aspect to Leonard’s top–player–title–securing post season speaks to both his toughness and skill set, as Leonard’s conducts each masterpiece night in and night out despite a lingering leg injury. Even with a health restraint, Leonard proves himself as the league’s premier player. Durable players always have and always will remain key components to any team wishing to acquire championships.
With an even greater stage to witness Leonard’s abilities about to unfold, Leonard has firmly stamped himself as the world’s best basketball player. Aside from this season, with an entire summer to heal up, Leonard will strike even more fear into opposing teams during next year’s campaign. Although Durant, Antetekounmpo, Curry, and even the recently uncrowned King James may have something to say about Leonard’s totem pole position next season, The Klaw stands ready to defend his title and prolong his reign.
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