After sitting out the previous 12 games due to a right knee injury, Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard will get the nod in the starting lineup for Thursday’s game against the Detroit Pistons.
Earlier in the day, his condition was described as unknown for the most part.
After missing the entirety of the 2021-22 season in order to focus on the rehabilitation of his surgically repaired right knee, Leonard participated in two games this season as a reserve player with the hopes of limiting his exertion and ensuring that he would receive minutes towards the conclusion of the game. The 11-year veteran scored 12.5 points on 44.4% of his field goal attempts and pulled down 6.5 rebounds in 21 minutes of bench time on average.
However, Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue has decided to take a different strategy since then.
Lue commented on Leonard’s former role on the bench by saying, “That was too nasty.” “I didn’t like it. You are sitting [on the bench] with the best player.”
Leonard continued to make progress in his recovery and participated in 5-on-5 drills for the first time on November 11. Lue reported that in the period since then, Leonard has participated in further 5-on-5 sessions “a few of times.” During the Clippers’ most recent road trip, which consisted of two games in Houston and Dallas, Leonard was also in attendance.
According to Lue, Leonard will begin the game with Paul George, Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris Sr., and Ivica Zubac. It is also possible that Leonard’s comeback will assist the Clippers in making up for the loss of guard Luke Kennard, who is currently out with a strained right calf muscle.
Lue stated that it will take some time for Kawhi to return to the Kawhi that everyone is familiar with. “Despite how talented he is as a player, he has to accept the fact that there will be highs and lows in his career.”
As a result, the Clippers approach Thursday’s game against the Pistons (3-12) with several unanswered questions surrounding the return of the 11-year veteran:
Is Leonard able to take on additional responsibilities?
“I’m not sure,” Lue added.
Will Leonard score the winning point?
“We’ll see,” Lue added.
Will Leonard be subject to a time limit of a certain number of minutes?
According to what Lue had to say, “He has some things that we need to make sure we do the right way.” “We are not going to discuss the minutes at this time. However, over the duration of the game, we are simply checking on him to ensure that he is doing well and that everything is going according to plan.
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