Kawhi Leonard’s body hasn’t been the same since Zaza Pachulia undercut his landing spot during the 2017 NBA playoffs. Since then, Leonard has had to sit out games due to injury, particularly on one leg of a back-to-back set, to remain healthy for when it truly matters: the postseason. However, with the Los Angeles Clippers struggling in Year 4 of the Kawhi-Paul George era, fans’ frustrations over Leonard’s infamous load management is reaching peak levels.
Nonetheless, Kawhi Leonard is just as frustrated as fans, if not more, over his stringent availability restrictions. Despite playing only 18 minutes in the Clippers’ embarrassing loss to the Denver Nuggets, the Clippers still held out Leonard for the second night of a back-to-back against the Minnesota Timberwolves, which, predictably, ended in defeat. Still, Leonard didn’t shut the door completely on the possibility of him suiting up in future back-to-back sets, health permitting.
“Yeah, for sure,” Leonard answered when asked if he could suit up in a future back-to-back, per Law Murray of The Athletic. “Trying to establish games with me hitting those high 30-minute marks. I think the last five have been that way since Philly, I believe. Just going to keep building and see where it goes.”
Kawhi Leonard last played in a back-to-back on April 8 and 9, 2021 – almost 21 months ago to this day. A lot has changed since then. Leonard suffered a Torn ACL in June 2021 and missed the entirety of the following season as a result.
Then after making his much-anticipated return to the hardwood in October 2022, Leonard evidently still hasn’t been 100 percent, having missed time due to ankle problems and illness, among other injuries, along the way.
With the Clippers season appearing to be at a crossroads, Kawhi Leonard’s health will play a huge part in dictating their fate. The Clippers need Leonard to be at their best to fulfill their championship aspirations. And, perhaps, the Clippers need to take off the bubble wrap around Leonard too so he could play himself into the superstar he’s capable of being once more.