The Los Angeles Clippers have had an incredible season up to now, coming into the NBA restart with the second-best document in a ruthless Western Convention. They’ve already secured their spot within the postseason, and at this level, it’s protected to say that this staff has lived as much as the lofty expectations many had on them previous to the beginning of the season, particularly the type they obtained after touchdown Kawhi Leonard.
Nonetheless, there are nonetheless quite a few essential questions that stay unanswered for this staff. Essentially the most vital amongst them maybe, is how reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard will fare as soon as the season lastly restarts. The four-time All-Star has been LA’s finest participant all season lengthy, and for sure, his efficiency the remainder of the best way will decide simply how far this staff will go this season.
The primary query that must be requested is what sort of impact this four-month season hiatus has had on Leonard. The logical reply right here is that it supplied Leonard with some much-needed day without work with a view to put together his physique for the grueling postseason. It’s as if the NBA took a summer season break in the midst of the season, which logically talking, can solely bode properly for a participant whose recreation has been constructed round perpetual load administration.
To have the ability to take a trip in the midst of the season to permit one’s physique to relaxation and recuperate can’t be a nasty factor, proper? And realizing how a lot of a hard-worker Leonard is, we’re fairly certain that he saved in form whereas in quarantine. Kawhi is the sort that retains his eye on the prize always, so naturally, he would have saved his health and conditioning at a primary stage. All in all, as soon as the season restarts, we should always count on to see a rested Kawhi Leonard, who’s laser focus stays unmoved.
Then once more, one side that can’t be ignored is rust. At this level, gamers are anticipated to enter the restart in late-season kind. Nevertheless, the size of the hiatus makes it appear and really feel like the beginning of a brand new season for them. That is precisely the case for Leonard, who himself admitted to the identical.
“Principally it’s a brand new season, just about,” Kawhi Leonard stated per Andrew Greif of Los Angeles Instances. “We’ve acquired eight video games to prepare for the playoffs. We’ve acquired to make use of these video games to construct some habits and simply construct staff chemistry, actually.”
Leonard’s kind in his staff’s scrimmages, it does seem that Kawhi has a little bit of rust to shake off. The 6-foot-7 ahead has averaged simply 10.7 factors and a pair of.7 assists all through the tune-up spherical, whereas going for a mixed 12-of-46 from the sphere. That’s actually not the Leonard we’ve gotten used to, and when you can scoff this off as nothing greater than meaningless scrimmage video games, it nonetheless speaks volumes of Kawhi’s kind proper now. Being that he’s Kawhi Leonard, it could not be stunning if he turns it throughout as soon as the season formally kicks in, however nonetheless, his tough experience to date is regarding, on the very least.
Earlier we touched on Leonard’s mastery of the load administration system. The Toronto Raptors executed this to perfection final season, saving Leonard’s power for when it mattered most — the playoffs. For sure, that is what we should always count on to see from the Clippers the remainder of the best way. LA head coach Doc Rivers just about supplied us with a preview of how he intends to let his famous person take an evening or two off through the seedings spherical:
“Kawhi is wholesome for essentially the most half,” Rivers stated. “That also doesn’t imply that we don’t wish to keep him and get him by way of the primary eight video games and prepare for the playoffs. We wish to be good about this. Not only for Kawhi, it’s with all people.”
Leonard has not performed in a single back-to-back set for the Clippers all season lengthy, and fortunately for them, they’re not scheduled for one more one for the remainder of the marketing campaign. They’re slated to play eight video games in 16 days, which is definitely a reasonably lax schedule. Nonetheless, as Rivers hinted above, that doesn’t imply that they’re not going to be resting Kawhi for a recreation or two.
You additionally have to bear in mind that at this level, seedings have taken much less of significance as a result of the truth that there will likely be no house court docket benefit through the postseason. LA can afford to fall behind a bit of their ultimate standing within the West, particularly if the reward is a more healthy Kawhi Leonard. Crucial factor now’s to get him to his peak situation in time for the playoffs.