One common theme has emerged from LA Clippers training camp, and it’s the team’s disinterest in personal recognition.
One of the older rosters in basketball, especially amongst their core pieces, the Clippers are filled with players who have one goal, which is winning a championship. This is different from Clippers teams of old, and could be what separates this group from those that have fallen short.
Arguably the deepest team in basketball, the Clippers know there won’t always be ample minutes for each deserving player. A guy who may have to sacrifice both minutes and shots this season is Luke Kennard. The league’s leader in three-point percentage last season was asked this during training camp, and gave an insightful answer.
“We all trust each other,” Kennard said. “Some guys might have to sacrifice touches, minutes, and I think everybody is okay with that. We wanna win. That’s our goal. We’ve talked with one another, and we want to win. That’s what we wanna do. We trust what T-Lue is gonna do for us… We have so many different combinations, and things that can work, and we just put it in his hands and we trust what he does. It’s our job when we’re out there to just play our hardest and make it work.”
It starts with Kawhi and PG
While perhaps easier said than done, this team-first mentality becomes inherent when displayed by team leaders. Following Sunday’s pre-season game, both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George spoke humbly about their willingness to defer to the one another.
“It’s just a genuine relationship,” Leonard said of the connection with George. “We’re both unselfish, so I feel like if you go on the floor and someone is passing you the ball and is moving, you’ll get that continuity back easily. It’s my 12th year, his 13th year, we’ve been through this before. So I feel like just having those years under our belt and our genuine relationship, it just carries over.”
George shared a similar answer, saying, “Kawhi is number one, and I’m totally fine with it. Everybody say Kawhi and you are one and one, or 1A and 1B, I’ll publicly say I’m the two. Kawhi is the one, I’m the two. So that part we nipped in the bud. There’s no ego when it comes to that. But with that being said, I believe in my talent and what I do. I believe on any night in what I’m capable of.”
With chemistry issues derailing the team internally during the 2019-20 season, and infamously during the Lob City years, the Clippers have built a roster around Kawhi Leonard and Paul George that is void of any egos.
Led by two stars who will do whatever it takes to win, it becomes easy for everybody else to fall in line. While they will need to put it together on the court, the Clippers are in position to do something special this year.