by Chris Camello (@Chris_Camello)
LOS ANGELES – In the past few seasons, Kawhi Leonard been known for load management. After suffering a horrendous quad injury in the 2017 playoffs, one could understand why Leonard does it.
He’s proven it can work. After missing 20 games last season with the Toronto Raptors, Leonard carried them to their first ever NBA championship. He did it with one memorable playoff performance after another.
The Los Angeles Clippers are implementing that formula of holding Leonard out some nights, hoping it will keep him fresh so he could lead his new team to their first championship in franchise history.
While it worked in Toronto, the circumstances were different.
The Clippers (29-13) are obviously a different team with a second superstar, different role players, and a different coach. Therefore, it’s difficult to expect the same results.
Leonard just dropped 32 points in a blowout win over the Orlando Magic, his fourth straight game with 30 or more points.
The Clippers need Leonard to be out there and setting the tone offensively every night. Part of the reason for the team’s struggles has been a lack of cohesion and continuity.
“My job is to go out and be aggressive,” Leonard said. “Creating action for my teammates, same thing on the defensive end. Just trying to bring my team energy, passion, and competing hard for 48 minutes.”
Doc Rivers also spoke about Leonard’s ability to set a tone.
“He’s taken that role and done a wonderful job with it, on both ends really,” Rivers said. “Setting the right amount of seriousness for us in practice. He’s doing everything we need him to do.”
As the second half of the season begins, Leonard must get as many reps in as possible. It’s obvious the Clippers need help with their chemistry and it’s up to Leonard to help resolve it with his presence.
This will allow everyone to understand and accept their roles and really thrive as a team.