NBA Exec: Kawhi Leonard Should Be Paired with PGs Like Kyle Lowry, Tony Parker

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistSeptember 17, 2020

Los Angeles Clippers' Kawhi Leonard (2) gestures in the second half of an NBA conference semifinal playoff basketball game against the Denver Nuggets Thursday, Sept 3, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista Fla. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

An NBA executive reportedly said the Los Angeles Clippers should focus on adding a true point guard in the mold of former San Antonio Spurs star Tony Parker or the Toronto Raptors' Kyle Lowry, who each played alongside the Clippers' Kawhi Leonard when he won his two career NBA titles.

"Running it back is great, but the Clippers are beatable," the executive told the Los Angeles Times' Andrew Greif on Wednesday. "They need a point guard. They've got to get one. They need better chemistry. They've got to do a better job scheming and adjusting."

Leonard was forced to operate as L.A.'s top playmaker throughout much of the 2019-20 season, leading the team with 5.5 assists per game during the postseason before the team was eliminated by the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Semifinals on Tuesday.

The typically reserved four-time All-Star made some pointed comments after the Clippers were knocked out of the playoffs.

"That's when it comes to the team chemistry, knowing what we should run to get the ball in spots or just if someone's getting doubled or they're packing the paint...get smarter as a team," Leonard told reporters. "Basketball IQ got to get better."

Those comments point toward a guard who can read defenses and consistently put the offense in a position to succeed like a Parker or Lowry did at Leonard's previous stops.

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That's not to say the 29-year-old L.A. native did a poor job running the offense when called upon. He posted a solid 2.2 assist-to-turnover ratio during the postseason. But asking him to handle that responsibility on top of being the team's leading scorer and chief wing defender is a lot.

The Clippers didn't have much choice, though. Their main premier contributors, Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams, are more of combo guards, while their one true point guard, Reggie Jackson, was reduced to a bit role in the playoffs.

Jackson is among five Clippers players set to become unrestricted free agents during the offseason, but the key duo of Leonard and Paul George remains in place. The departures should give L.A. some financial wiggle room to chase a point guard via trade or free agency.

Los Angeles cruised through the regular season with a 49-23 record, but the loaded Western Conference playoffs, which were filled from top to bottom with dangerous teams, were always going to expose any deficiencies a team has, and for the Clips it was the lack of a floor general in key situations.

Filling that void and adding some frontcourt depth will headline the front office's offseason to-do list.