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Doc Rivers says Kawhi Leonard might play vs. Nuggets

Clippers, Doc Rivers

Los Angeles Clippers head coach Doc Rivers says there’s a chance star small forward Kawhi Leonard plays on Thursday against the Denver Nuggets.

Rivers previously said he didn’t anticipate playing Leonard in the preseason. The Clippers coach, though, had a change of tune on Wednesday.

Last season with the Toronto Raptors, Leonard averaged 26.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists during the regular season. He guided the Raptors to the championship over the Golden State Warriors in six games and won his second Finals MVP award.

Load management worked well for Leonard during the regular season in 2018-19. Kawhi is one of the best players in the world. He doesn’t need to play in the preseason and risk getting hurt before the real games start, although it sounds like Rivers wants to see the three-time All-Star and two-time Defensive Player of the Year get a few reps in with his new teammates before the regular season begins.

Leonard dealt with left knee tendinitis during the Finals against the Warriors. The Clippers want to make sure Leonard is as close to 100 percent for their playoff run, so we are likely going to see Leonard sit out a few games this season.

That’s where the Clippers depth will come in handy. Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley and Montrezl Harrell are more than capable of carrying the load on offense.

Plus, once six-time All-Star Paul George returns from his shoulder injury, the Clippers will have two superstars to use on offense.