With the Los Angeles Clippers opening their regular season on Thursday against their in-town rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, star forward Kawhi Leonard is getting back into NBA action for the first time in more than a year.
Leonard did not play for the entirety of the 2021-22 season while rehabbing from a torn ACL, and the team appears to be taking a cautious approach with the two-time NBA Champion to begin the year.
Clippers star Kawhi Leonard will come off the bench tonight vs. Lakers in his return from ACL injury.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 21, 2022
This isn’t exactly all the surprising considering how much Leonard means to the Clippers’ chances of making a deep postseason run this year.
While many are disappointed to hear that Leonard may be limited, most agree that this is the right decision coming from Los Angeles.
If you told me Kawhi Leonard is coming off the bench the entire season, I would say he should be the favorite to win Sixth Man of the Year.
However, we do not know how long it will last. Very interested to see if books make him available in the market.
— Kevin Walsh Jr. (@TheKevinWalsh) October 21, 2022
Kawhi Leonard will come off the bench. Ty Lue says it’s so that they can spread his minutes out and have him for the end of the game. Reggie Jackson will start at point guard. Ty says this was Kawhi’s idea so that he can be most comfortable with the usage of his minutes
— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) October 21, 2022
First time since 11/10/13 vs NYK pic.twitter.com/Wud2i7kL5E
— Tipico Sportsbook (@tipico) October 21, 2022
Clippers starters tonight:
Kawhi Leonard is coming off the bench tonight
— Farbod Esnaashari (@Farbod_E) October 21, 2022
Despite the decision, Leonard appears to be fully recovered from the ACL injury. This decision likely is due to the lack of NBA action that the star forward has had due to his injury.
Leonard has not played in an NBA game since June of 2021, so easing him into NBA action is certainly the right approach.
According to Caesar’s Sportsbook via CBS Sports, the Clippers currently have the third-best odds to win the NBA Championship this season, only behind the Boston Celtics and the Golden State Warriors.
Kawhi Leonard will the instrumental in leading the Clippers this year, and Los Angeles clearly sees the bigger picture when it comes to his long-term health this year.