I guess you could say we saved the best till last, as the Los Angeles Clippers player previews round off with star player Kawhi Leonard.
There are plenty of intangibles to being a star player, and though the 31-year-old isn’t exactly the prototype, he has a lot of enigmatic qualities that make him stand out. As a man who doesn’t often get excited by much, the excitement that Kawhi hitting his first shot in 14 months sent through Clipper Nation was something to behold. That ability to capture the imagination of so many is one of those many undefinable qualities that he and other stars possess.
Now it’s time for the next chapter in his career. He’s no stranger to having to recover from a big injury, as with his final days on the San Antonio Spurs, but this time there feels like an even greater sense of anticipation. That was clear from the moment he stepped into a three last week, but it will be at fever pitch when he steps onto the floor in The Crypt against the Los Angeles Lakers on opening night.
What is the best case scenario for Leonard’s season?
A season in which he maintains full health and gets back to his sharpest would be just what Clippers fans have dreamed about. The Bubble season aside, we’ve so far been robbed of seeing our star be able to go the whole campaign, and it’s about time we get to see just what that brings. This squad boasts more experience and depth than the Toronto Raptors team that he helped reach the holy grail, so the sky’s the limit if he can get near those heights.
What is the worst-case outcome?
Another injury could seriously cast a shadow over the remainder of Leonard’s career, with years still left on his contract. You could perhaps point to Klay Thompson’s run with the Golden State Warriors last season to suggest that he’d still be able to recover, but very few people really know Klay’s true level these days, and it certainly seems a step down from the heights he used to be able to reach. As the go-to guy for the Clippers, another long absence would be a disaster for Kawhi and for the franchise as a whole.
What do you think is the most-likely role for Leonard?
Leonard seems set up for a huge season. It could well be good PR from his teammates that has me convinced he’s in the best shape of his life, but if there’s anybody I’d trust it would be those guys that are closest to the source and know what that level of greatness looks like. The idea of Kawhi back at the peak of his powers should give nightmares to fans around the league and if he can make it click with the team this season, then it could truly be time for celebrations on this side of LA.
It’s all possible so long as he stays healthy, and there’s no reason to believe he and the Clippers won’t be managing that very carefully to limit that while giving him the best chance to succeed once again.