The 6’7 small forward is probably one of the most underrated players in the league. Maybe it’s because of his quiet, nonchalant personality, but he seems to get overlooked compared to other players. So “How Good is Kawhi?”
Kawhi went to Canyon Springs High School in Moreno Valley, Ca, but he transferred to Martin Luther King High School his junior year. He was named California Mr. Basketball and averaged 22.6 points, 3.9 assists and 3 blocks per game. Kawhi committed to play basketball at San Diego State University in 2009 and his rookie season he almost averaged a double-double with 12.7 points and 9.9 rebounds. He earned the Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year award, first-team and MWC tournament MVP.
His sophomore season, he averaged 15.7 points and 10.4 rebounds. The Aztecs were back to back tournament champs and they reached the sweet sixteen in the March Madness Tournament but lost that round.
Kawhi’s jersey from San Diego State was recently retired and he was the first player to have a jersey retired from SDSU.
NBA Draft/Rookie Season:
After two years of college ball, Kawhi declared for the NBA Draft in 2011. Critics compared his style of play and body type to Metta World Peace and Gerald Wallace because of his 6’7 height and 7’3 wingspan. They considered him more for his defense and rebounding abilities. Kawhi was picked 15th overall by the Indiana Pacers, but traded later on that day to San Antonio. He was placed on the All-Rookie First Team and was chosen to play for Team USA in 2012. Kawhi ended up signing a multi-year deal with the Spurs.
His sophomore season, he was chosen to play in the Rising Stars Challenge for team Chuck. The Spurs made their appearance in the Finals, and this was his first Finals experience. They lost the series, but Kawhi averaged 14.6 points and 11.1 rebounds.
The 2013-2014 season, Kawhi finished the season strong averaging 12.8 points and 6.2 rebounds. He was selected to the All-Defensive Second Team for his first time. For a second time in a row, the Spurs advanced to the Finals and won this time 4-1. Kawhi was the Finals MVP and was the third youngest player to win the award at only 22 years old.
Going into the 2014-2015 season, Kawhi battled sickness and injuries, but he won his first Defensive Player of the Year award. The Spurs lost in the first round to the Clippers.
Kawhi earned his first All-Star selection in the 2015-2016 season. He re-signed with the Spurs for a five-year $90 million contract. Kawhi was so close to becoming the league’s MVP, but ended up coming in second behind Steph Curry. The Spurs made it to the playoffs, but lost in the second round to OKC.
In the 2016-2017 season, Kawhi was the first Spur to have six consecutive 30-point games since 1986. He played in the All-Star game again and was a starter. He finished the season averaging 25.5 points, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals and in the playoffs he averaged 27.7 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists.
Kawhi battled more injuries going into the 2017-2018 season and missed the first 27 games. He could have returned to the court, but Kawhi decided to skip the rest of the season to rehab himself and he only played a few games this season. This was also his last season with the Spurs.
Kawhi requested a trade in the 2018-2019 season, and the Toronto Raptors took the risk and took Kawhi, which was probably the best decision management has ever made. They were concerned about his health, but quickly recovered from that fear after Kawhi’s double-double in the season opener. In the Eastern Conference Finals Game 7, he hit a game winning buzzer-beater that bounced several times around the rim, for the win over the 76’ers and they advanced to the NBA Finals. This was also the first Game 7 buzzer beater in NBA History. They won the Finals and Kawhi won the Finals MVP award. In the playoffs, Kawhi scored 732 points, falling behind Lebron and Michael Jordan.
In the 2019-2020 season, Kawhi disappointed Toronto fans and joined the Los Angeles Clippers, along with Paul George. He wanted to go back to his roots and play for his hometown. On January 24th, he recorded his first triple-double with 33 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists. Kawhi was chosen for the All-Star game again and won his first All-Star Game MVP. For the second half of the 2020 season in the bubble, Kawhi and the Clippers took a devastating fall and lost to the Denver Nuggets in the second round. The Clippers had a 3-1 lead in the series and the Nuggets made a comeback and took the series.
Kawhi is a very serious player, but honestly he’s one of the funniest players in the league with his awkwardness. Hence, his nickname “Mr. Fun Guy.” Check out some clips of Kawhi’s signature laugh and his funniest moments.
So will Kawhi stick with his hometown team or go team up with another superstar? The crazy part is that Kawhi’s won every award and accomplished more than the average player, but he’s never won a regular season MVP yet. Is it politics or he just hasn’t had that MVP season yet? Let us know what you think in the comments.