Before Kawhi Leonard even chose the Los Angeles Clippers in free agency, then-head coach Doc Rivers called the Toronto Raptors star the “closest thing we’ve seen to Michael Jordan.”
The Clippers were fined $50,000 by the NBA for the comments Rivers made as a guest on ESPN’s NBA Finals special. The thing about his comments, however, is that he’s not wrong. Kawhi Leonard’s game has been Jordan-esque ever since he came into the league, dominating on both ends of the floor. Of course, Jordan had the far more polished offensive game, but the focus of Leonard’s game has been the mid-range, just like His Airness.
“He’s the most like Jordan that we’ve seen,” Rivers said back in 2019. “There’s a lot of great players. LeBron is phenomenal, KD is phenomenal. Not that he is Jordan or anything like that, but he’s the most like him. Big hands, post game, can finish, great leaper, great defender, in-between game.”
While Leonard came into the league as a defender who could provide some offensive punch here and there, no one could’ve seen this kind of offensive development coming. Leonard has averaged over 21 points per game in five of the last six seasons, including a career-high 27.1 points per game during the 2019-20 season with the Clippers. He has also increased his assists average in all of those seasons, which included a career-high 5.1 assists per game during the 2020-21 season.