It’s not exactly surprising, but still nice to confirm: Kawhi Leonard has won Western Conference Player of the Week for games played between January 13th and 19th—a stretch where the Clippers went 3-0 while led by gargantuan, efficient efforts by Kawhi: averaging 38 points, 5 assists, and 4.7 rebounds while shooting 58.6% from the field and 52.4% from three.
It was a week of records for the Clippers’ star: according to Clippers PR, his performance against Cleveland made him just the third player in the shot-clock era to score 43 or more points in fewer than 29 minutes played. Against Orlando, Kawhi became the fourth player in franchise history to have a 35-point, 5-rebound, 5-assist, 5-steal game. And across the last two weeks, he became joined World B. Free and Bob McAdoo as the only players in franchise history to score 30 or more points in 5 or more consecutive games.
This award aligns with the strongest stretch of the season thus far for Leonard, who has been the Clippers’ best player all year but has really stepped it up lately. With the Clippers struggling with some mid-season lethargy in recent games, Leonard really seemed to take it upon himself to will the Clippers to victory. The increased offensive load reflected in the above numbers demonstrate that on one end of the floor, but he was impressive defensively too. During one of this week’s broadcasts, we learned that Kawhi Leonard has asked Doc Rivers for more challenging defensive assignments in recent weeks, and that was definitely true against New Orleans, where Leonard played most of the game out of position at power forward, guarding Pelicans standout Brandon Ingram.
All in all, a strong week for Leonard nets him a well-deserved Player of the Week award.