Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard proved last season that he is still among the NBA’s best players.
After getting traded from the San Antonio Spurs to the Toronto Raptors, Leonard delivered the Raptors their first NBA title. He averaged 30.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game during Toronto’s playoff run.
Leonard joined the Clippers in free agency after winning that title, and his new teammates now see what makes him so great.
Clippers guard Patrick Beverley explained on “The JJ Redick Podcast” that his first move after the COVID-19 pandemic struck was to call Leonard and plan a time that the two could train together.
Beverley’s trip to work out with Leonard was planned for one week, but quickly turned to three weeks.
“I thought I was a guy who worked hard,” Beverley told Redick. “I know I’m a guy who worked hard. When I left there, working hard was a very different mindset than what I thought I had.
“Seeing that man work out, and working out with that man, was a whole different level. It changed my whole life, changed my whole game.”
It’s not a surprise to hear how hard Leonard works.
After attending San Diego State University, Leonard was selected by the Indiana Pacers at No. 15 overall in the 2011 NBA Draft.
The Pacers traded Leonard to the Spurs for George Hill, and Leonard became an NBA Finals MVP by his third season when the Spurs defeated LeBron James and the Miami Heat in the 2014 NBA Finals.
Leonard won NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016 with the Spurs.
This season, Leonard’s first in Los Angeles, the 29-year-old is averaging 26.9 points, 7.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. The points and assists averages are both the best of his career, and the rebounds average ties his best mark from the 2018-19 season.
The Clippers sit at 44-20, second in the Western Conference, and will kick off their final set of regular season games on July 30 at 9 p.m. EST versus the Los Angeles Lakers.