In the world of NBA, where preseason often serves as a warm-up, the Clippers, under the leadership of coach Tyronn Lue, are bucking the trend. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the star players of the team, are embracing a new sense of urgency in their preseason preparation.
Changing the Mindset of Veterans
Coach Tyronn Lue, a seasoned NBA figure, understands the mentality of veteran players all too well. In his 11 years as a coach, he has worked with giants like LeBron James, Paul George, and Kawhi Leonard. Typically, veteran players tend to ease into the preseason, but Lue is determined to alter that mindset.
"The Clippers’ theme of training camp is clear: establish our identity from Day One," Lue emphasized.
Seeking Urgency in Every Setting
No matter the setting, the Clippers are vocal about their intention to infuse urgency into their preseason regimen. They acknowledge that the urgency they lacked at times last season needs to be present from the get-go.
"I know it doesn’t count, but we can still establish our offensive and defensive strategies," said Lue. He emphasized the importance of pushing the pace, attacking the basket, maintaining excellent spacing, and being physically dominant from the very start.
Preseason Opener Insights
The Clippers recently played their first preseason game against the Utah Jazz, providing some insights into their new approach:
Westbrook as the Starting Ball-Handler
With Russell Westbrook entrenched as the starting ball-handler, opportunities for others, like rookie Bones Hyland, are limited. Hyland, however, impressed with his scoring prowess and defensive activity, earning praise from George.
Emphasis on Execution
Hyland highlighted the importance of execution, suggesting that plays were run effectively, regardless of whether they resulted in a score. This execution-oriented approach is a key part of the Clippers’ urgency plan.
Playing with Intensity
Leonard and George showcased their intensity from the opening moments of the game. Their defensive efforts, along with George’s creative playmaking, aligned perfectly with the team’s new mindset.
Challenges and Uncertainties
While the Clippers are determined to follow their urgency plan, there are challenges and uncertainties:
Injuries, like Marcus Morris Sr.’s left groin injury and Brandon Boston Jr.’s knee contusion, can disrupt the team’s preseason preparations. These unexpected setbacks add an element of uncertainty to the mix.
Young players like KJ Martin face the challenge of adapting to a new system and multiple positions. While most teammates understand the coaching staff’s expectations, newcomers like Martin require more time to acclimate.
In conclusion, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, along with the entire Clippers team, are committed to breaking the mold of a leisurely preseason. They aim to inject urgency, execute their strategies effectively, and set the tone for a season where they’re determined to excel. As the preseason progresses, all eyes will be on how well they can adhere to the Clippers’ urgency plan.
Exploring Related Topics
Will Kawhi Leonard play in 2023?
Kawhi Leonard is poised to enter the third year of his four-year contract in 2023-24, with a substantial $48 million player option for the subsequent season in 2024-25. The question on many basketball enthusiasts’ minds is whether Leonard will take to the court in 2023. As of now, Leonard’s playing status for the 2023 season remains uncertain, with fans eagerly awaiting updates on his recovery and contract decisions.
Does Kawhi Leonard want to play?
Kawhi Leonard’s desire to play is evident in his consistent stance: he is eager to take the court when he is both healthy and medically cleared to do so. However, Leonard also acknowledges the realities of the grueling 82-game NBA season, recognizing that playing every game may not always be feasible. In his own words, "If I’m able to play, I’ll play basketball." This statement encapsulates Leonard’s commitment to the game balanced with a pragmatic approach to his physical well-being.
Are Paul George and Kawhi healthy?
Both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard have recovered from their respective injuries. George, who had been sidelined due to a right knee sprain during the first round, is now fully recovered. Clippers’ coach, Frank, confirmed their health status, stating, "Both are fully healthy." Moreover, he expressed optimism about their productive offseasons, highlighting the unwavering commitment of the team’s top players to achieve remarkable feats for the Clippers.
Why is Kawhi called the claw?
Kawhi Leonard earned the moniker "The Claw" (or "Klaw") due to his remarkable ball-hawking abilities and his notably large hands. His reputation as one of the NBA’s finest two-way players is underscored by his impressive track record, including seven All-Defensive Team selections and back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year awards in 2015 and 2016.
Is Kawhi an All-Star 2023?
Regrettably, despite his stellar performance, Kawhi Leonard did not secure a spot in the 2023 NBA All-Star Game. The announcement of All-Star Reserves was made during a special TNT pre-game show, with head coaches casting their votes for the reserves, and Leonard falling short of the selection.
Why does Kawhi Leonard not play every game?
Kawhi Leonard’s approach to playing every game is pragmatic. He emphasizes that his goal isn’t to reach a specific number of games but rather to play to the best of his ability whenever he can. He acknowledges that injuries can hinder his ability to compete, referring to unfortunate incidents in the past, such as tearing his ACL and meniscus, which affected his availability on the court. Leonard’s focus remains on contributing when he’s physically capable.