In case you haven’t heard, the new season of Stranger Things is now streaming online. It’s a very entertaining series that has a huge following in modern pop culture. Basically, the latest season is about a group of children from Hawkins, Indiana led by a girl named Eleven, an enigmatic girl who has superpowers, as they are hunted by a monstrous creature – called the Mind Flayer – who uses human beings as hosts to spy on the children as part of its master plan.
Suffice to say, this series is awesome, scary and as the title suggested, strange. Watching will make you feel a sort of tingling sensation due to the shock and strangeness of each episode. You’ll want to keep binging each episode just to find out what happens next.
In the afternoon of July 6th, as I was innocently scrolling on my Twitter, two notifications from Adrian Wojnarowski popped up. Suddenly, I felt like watching an episode of Stranger Things.
Free agent forward Kawhi Leonard has informed runners-up teams of his plans: He's signing with the Clippers, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 6, 2019
A few seconds later,
Oklahoma City is trading All-Star Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers for a record-setting collection of draft choices, league sources tell ESPN.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 6, 2019
Now, things have become stranger.
The conclusion of the Kawhi Free Agency saga, which went on for what seemed like forever, reeked of strangeness. Strange because days leading up to his decision, the idea of him signing with the LA Clippers seemed preposterous. It seemed like he made it clear that his decision boiled down to either staying with the Toronto Raptors or going home to Los Angeles with the Lakers.
Now, he’s officially a Clipper, and he’s not coming home alone. He’s bringing with him last season’s MVP candidate and fellow California native Paul George. Just like that, Jerry West once again pulled off an improbable heist.
Everyone was caught off guard and the credibility of the different “sources” online certainly took a dip. The decision was, on face value, seemed like it came out of nowhere. But it was the plan all along. Turns out, he was already recruiting George and was ready to join the Clippers once a trade deal was done.
Leonard and his camp kept it silent, which comes as no surprise. Just weeks after being crowned the new king of the NBA, he once again leads the headlines as he executed a Free Agency power move of epic proportions.
If you would have told me a year ago that he is capable of doing such thing, I would have just laughed it off.
In this case, Kawhi was like Eleven. Enigmatic, seemingly innocent, very mysterious, and has a superpower that was able to take down a dynasty in the NBA Finals. With the Free Agency smoke clearing, he came out like the Mind Flayer – ruthless, powerful and had everyone fooled before unveiling his grand scheme.
That is what is what makes him strangely one of a kind.
This move made perfect sense. After all, this Clippers team is a team that took the Golden State Warriors to six games in the first round of last year’s playoffs without a legitimate superstar.
This team is already a solid group of competitive, gritty players with hounds such as Patrick Beverly, Lou Williams, and Montrezl Harrell. All that they were missing was was their alpha. Injecting a player like Leonard is exactly what the “Doc” ordered.
The Klaw is an alpha in his own right, if not the best there is today. He was able to lead the Toronto Raptors to their first ever franchise championship last season taking out the two-time defending champions Warriors in six games. He was also named the Finals MVP for the second time in his career. Throughout the playoffs, he averaged a monstrous 30.5 points per game, 9.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists which was widely considered as one of the best individual playoff runs in the past few years.
Landing Leonard in the free agency already made the Clips instant contenders. But the inclusion of George into the mix just elevated them to title favorites. This is a player that thrived gracefully alongside Russell Westbrook in the past two years.
If he was able to blend well with the wildest alpha dog there is, then expect George to be at his ultimate best being 1B to Leonard’s 1A with the Clippers. A combination of Kawhi and PG is a two-headed monster that the rest of the NBA will have nightmares of next season.
They are two very best, if not the best, two-way players in the game. It needs be emphasized that Leonard is the Finals MVP and widely considered the best defender in the league. He is joining forces with a top three finalist, not just in the MVP race but also in the Defensive Player of the Year race. Leonard averaged 26 points on 49% shooting last season. George put up 28 a game on 43% shooting. Both of them are in their absolute prime right now.
Good luck defending AND trying to score against that.
It was only coincidental, and kind of scary, that the report of Leonard and George coming home to Los Angeles happened just as earthquakes also hit parts of Southern California and Nevada. It was as if their homecoming became the aftershock that shook the entirety of the NBA.
The ramifications of it, however, may be good for the league. Had Leonard joined the Lakers and formed, perhaps, the most talented Big Three with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, then the era of super team will just roll over to a different team.
With Leonard and George as Clippers, we are entering one of the stranger seasons the league has had for a while. After years of having one or two teams as title favorites, the race for the championship is wide open. The Clippers and their new superstars just took the pole position.
Photos from Getty Images