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Los Angeles Clippers

NBA Playoffs: How has Kawhi Leonard performed in the postseason during his career?

After leading the Toronto Raptors to their first NBA championship in franchise history with one of the greatest individual playoff runs in NBA history, Kawhi Leonard has his eyes set on making more history in the 2020 playoffs.

Leading the LA Clippers' deep, talented roster, Leonard has a shot at the third championship of his career. With that, he could become only the seventh player in NBA history to win back-to-back championships with different teams and the first to do so as Finals MVP.

Outside of the 2017-18 season, where he only played nine regular-season games as a member of the San Antonio Spurs, Leonard has qualified for the NBA playoffs in every season of his nine-year career, this season included.

Prior to the 2020 postseason, Leonard has career postseason averages 19.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 1.7 steals in 111 playoff games.

Stint with the Spurs

In 87 playoff games for the Texas franchise, Leonard averaged 16.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.7 steals.

During his first three postseasons, he started at a small forward and was primarily a perimeter wing defender who could score at times. Each year, he got better and better at contributing on the offensive end.

That period was capped by the Spurs' 2014 championship run, where Leonard was named Finals MVP. In winning the honour at the age of 22, he became the third-youngest Finals MVP in NBA history with series averages of 17.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.9 steals.

Following that Finals, Leonard received more touches on offence while holding a place among the best defenders in the league, averaging a league-high 2.7 steals in 2017 playoffs. After averaging 14.3 points during the 2014 postseason, Leonard broke that number in each of the ensuing playoffs, averaging 20.3 points in 2015, 22.5 points in 2016, and 27.7 points in 2017.

Despite Tim Duncan retiring in the offseason of 2016, Leonard led the Spurs to a formidable 2016-17 season. And if it wasn't for Leonard's injury in Game 1, the Spurs looked set to topple the favourites in the Kevin Durant-led Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.

The injury would linger into the 2017-18 season, one that saw Leonard play in just nine regular-season games. Then, after missnig the 2018 postseason, he was dealt to the Toronto Raptors.

Historic 2019 title run with the Raptors

The Klaw played 24 playoff games for the Canadian franchise in 2019, averaging 30.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, 3.9 assists, and 1.7 steals.

After missing the previous season, Leonard not only bounced back but oftentimes carried the Raptors to wins, piecing together one of the greatest individual playoff runs in NBA history.

Whether it was dropping 39 points in a must-win Game 4 against the Philadelphia 76ers in the Conference Semifinals, or being responsible for the Raptors eliminating the 76ers in Game 7 with a buzzer-beating game-winner, or winning the head-to-head with league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in the Conference Finals, Leonard seemingly found new ways to lead the Raptors franchise to new heights.

He capped off the postseason by leading the Raptors to their first title, with a six-game series victory over the two-time defending champions in the Golden State Warriors.

Leonard received the second Finals MVP award of his career, becoming the third player after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James to win the award with different teams.

The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.

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