The Los Angeles Clippers enter the NBA Playoffs as the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference after finishing the regular season 44-38. The reward for their efforts is a first-round matchup with the No. 4 seed Phoenix Suns (45-37) in a series that headlines as a rematch of the 2021 Western Conference Finals.
All-star forward Kawhi Leonard, who is no stranger to postseason success, will look to lead the Clippers to their first NBA Finals berth in franchise history.
Kawhi Leonard playoff record
Stats: 21.2 PPG, 2.8 APG, 7.8 RPG, 51.1 FG%, 39.9 3pt%
Series wins: 19
NBA titles: 2 (2014, 2019)
Awards: 2-time Finals MVP (2014, 2019)
Leonard is just one of 12 players to have won the NBA Finals MVP award multiple times after hoisting the hardware with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014 and Toronto Raptors in 2019. Of those dozen players, he joins only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers) and LeBron James (Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Lakers) to win the award with two separate franchises.
After being drafted by the Spurs in the 2011 NBA Draft, Leonard appeared in 87 playoff games with the franchise while averaging 16.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.7 steals. While already entering the league as a stout defender, he consistently improved on the offensive end through his first three seasons. That run capped off with a 2014 NBA title, in which Leonard became the third-youngest Finals MVP in NBA history (22 years old) with series averages of 17.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.9 steals.
In his lone season with the Raptors, he helped lead the franchise to their first-ever championship in a 4-2 NBA Finals series win over the Golden State Warriors. Leonard averaged 28.5 points, 9.8 rebounds, and 4.2 assists in those six games while shooting 43.4% from the floor and 35.7% from three. He also finished as the series leader in steals with an average of 2.0 per game.
The star forward hasn’t quite had the same level of success as a member of the Clippers, but he looks to be in tremendous form heading into a pivotal postseason for him and the franchise.