On This Day: Kawhi Leonard Makes Dazzling LA Clippers Debut vs. Lakers
On October 22, 2019, Kawhi Leonard stepped onto the floor at Staples Center for the first time as a member of the LA Clippers.
He didn't disappoint in his debut.
In a highly-anticipated matchup with the Los Angeles Lakers, Leonard — fresh off his second NBA Finals victory — put up 30 points, six rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block in a 112-102 victory.
Perhaps the most impressive feat of his night, though, was that he helped guide the team to a win over the eventual champions without Paul George by his side.
George would miss LA's first 11 games while recovering from multiple shoulder surgeries he underwent over the summer. Instead, Leonard's best teammate that night was Lou Williams, who logged 21 points, seven assists and five rebounds in 37 minutes off the bench.
The win set the tone for much of the beginning of LA's season, as well as Leonard's impressive campaign. The Clippers went 14-5 through their first 19 games and 49-23 overall, while Leonard managed to set new career-high marks in scoring and assists.
The season may not have ended how Clippers fans had hoped, but it would be wrong to say it was all for nothing. Moments like Leonard's debut, LA's win over the Lakers on Christmas and the ever-exciting overtime win over the Boston Celtics helped make this year one to remember, and one that probably won't exit the minds of fans anytime soon — for better or for worse.
It's hard to say when exactly we'll see Leonard and the Clippers back under the lights at Staples, but make no mistake — with stronger leadership from the coaching staff and a refocused group of stars, LA will be ready when the moment comes.