The Kawhi Leonard Effect
2019 NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard made a decision. He will sign with the Los Angeles Clippers on a four-year deal worth $142 million maximum contract. Not only the Clippers won the Kawhi Leonard Sweepstakes but they acquired perennial all-star Paul George in a trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder. The trade went down after Leonard reportedly suggested the Clippers trade for George.
These two transactions sent immediate shocks throughout the NBA and disrupted the balance. What are some of the effects from this monumental deal?
The Kawhi Leonard Effect
The Los Angeles Clippers are the Favorites
The Los Angeles Clippers have been a playoff team for years. But, they did not have a superstar player to get them over the hump. Now, they have two. Both Leonard and George wanted to play in Los Angeles for a while. Both of them are from there. The Clippers roster looks great on paper. Along with those two, they have Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, and Maurice Harkless among others. They are a deep team who will be able to play offense and defense very well. With the Golden State Warriors reeling, the Clippers could emerge as the new Western Conference Champions. Chemistry is key but if the Clippers can figure it out, they will be explosive to say the least.
The End of the Toronto Raptors?
Before the start of last season, the Toronto Raptors traded DeMar DeRozan to the San Antonio Spurs for Leonard. Leonard was able to lead them to their first NBA Finals and championship win. Now that Leonard is gone, the Raptors are left with a huge hole. They do not have a dominant scorer. Also, Leonard’s absence leaves a huge hole in their defense. The Raptors still have a roster that is capable of making the playoffs. Most Improved Player of the Year winner Pascal Siakam will continue to get better and will step up. But, the Raptors will fall from being the second seed in the Eastern Conference and are no longer title contenders.
The East is Wide Open Again
Now that Leonard is back in the West, the East is for the taking again. There are a few teams who could emerge as the new Eastern Conference Champions. The Milwaukee Bucks return most of their roster from last season, in which they were the number one seed and the only team to win 60 games. The Philadelphia 76ers are in position to win the crown. They re-signed Tobias Harris and acquired Josh Richardson in a trade. Also, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons look to take another step forward. The Boston Celtics are still dangerous. The addition of Kemba Walker will help tremendously. Also, the Brooklyn Nets are now considered a threat with the additions of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and DeAndre Jordan. But, most look at 2020-2021 as the Nets’ year given Durant will miss next season. The East will be fun to watch.
The Battle for Los Angeles
The Los Angeles Lakers were in the running for Leonard. But reports surfaced that Leonard did not want to be a part of a super-team with the Lakers. The Lakers are still a dangerous team without him. They now have Anthony Davis, who is one of the most versatile players in the NBA. Also, Kyle Kuzma will improve and LeBron James will be back to full health. The Lakers signed a few veterans who can shoot threes efficiently. For the first time in years, NBA Basketball in Los Angeles will be fun to watch. Both the Lakers and Clippers are now fierce competitors. They have four superstars between them. Also, both are NBA Finals contenders. Let the battle for Los Angeles begin.