With his reserved persona and lack of social media presence, LA Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard is tough to receive updates on.
This has been especially difficult with the two-time Finals MVP rehabbing a knee injury, because his usual post-game media appearances are replaced by vague reports from teammates, coaches, and trainers.
With infrequent updates, fans were left waiting until the last day of the season to see if the superstar forward would potentially be returning. Once that never happened, focus shifted to the offseason where Kawhi has reportedly been progressing well.
Now for the first time, fans have an idea on when they will see Kawhi back on the floor.
In a recent article from The Athletic’s Law Murray, it was confirmed that the expected return date for Kawhi Leonard is indeed opening night against the Los Angeles Lakers. In another report, Murray added that Kawhi is even expected to be ready for pre-season action.
From minimal updates to something as concrete as this, fans may be left confused on how such a development occurred. While updates have been minimal, they have indeed been documented, and they all provide reason for optimism surrounding this latest report.
What we know
In mid-July, Kawhi Leonard’s trainer predicted the “best version” of his star client not long after comparing him to Michael Jordan.
Considering Kawhi Leonard’s last live basketball came in a postseason where he was averaging 30 PPG on 57% from the field, any upgrade from this is indeed a bold prediction. That said, he was looking so good in workouts that his trainer made such a claim.
This prediction from Kawhi’s trainer came shortly after the Clippers president of basketball operations revealed how intensely Kawhi had been working out, even making a joke about the team’s need to afford the light bill.
Shortly after this update from Lawrence Frank, ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk said on television, “From what we’ve been told, Kawhi Leonard looks good. He’s on pace to kinda make his way back, he’s been working with what Lawrence Frank calls a ‘maniacal’ work ethic. I just think they’re going to take things very slow, but at least these guys are continuing to work on their chemistry.”
As previously mentioned, each of these updates were sporadic, and not widely covered, but they begin adding up to the looming return of Kawhi Leonard.
What fans can expect
Kawhi has always been conservative with his injury management, and the expectation should be a similar approach coming off of an ACL tear. That said, each of these updates indicate that his play on the court should not be hindered by this injury.
The only real impact fans can expect to see regarding Kawhi’s ACL tear, is potentially a reserved approach to back to backs. While the superstar forward was playing back to backs during the 2020-21 season, he avoided doing so in 2019 and 2020. A similar approach to those two seasons could be back for Leonard, but any additional hindrances seem to be non-existent.
While some rust is reasonable to expect, all current reports indicate that Kawhi will be back to who he was before the injury. For the first time since he went down, fans can finally mark their calendars for when that return will be.