LA Clippers: Best and worst-case scenarios for Kawhi Leonard this season

Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Kawhi Leonard, LA Clippers. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /

LA Clippers‘ two-way superstar Kawhi Leonard will likely be out for a significant portion of this season.

It’s unfortunately possible that Leonard could be out the whole year. That would be the absolute worst-case scenario for Leonard, especially because he signed a four-year deal instead of the two-year deal with an option after the first so that he would have a chance to play this season.

It would also be the worst-case scenario for the Clippers. While the Clips almost won the West without Leonard last year, I don’t know that they’ll be able to sustain this without Leonard for 82 games and the postseason. The best case scenario for Leonard, however, shows how high the Clippers’ ceiling is.

The best case scenario for Kawhi Leonard would be to come back by March, and be 100% by the postseason.

The recent update on Kawhi Leonard has this league expecting Leonard to be back practicing with the LA Clippers by March or April. Therefore, the best case scenario is for him to be practicing with the team by early March.

That way he’ll have about a month to get fully healthy before we head into the playoffs, and a healthy Kawhi on this team team gives us a chance to go as far as we want to in the 2022 postseason. This is the same team that got to the WCF last year without him.

Now add a 100% Leonard into the mix, who is the best player in our conference when healthy, and this team is going to be winning that conference.

Let’s take a look at the type of player Leonard is in the postseason. Well, he’s a two-time NBA Finals MVP. He’s unstoppable.

That’s what his ceiling is when he’s healthy. He has the upside to be the best player in the NBA under the brightest lights in the NBA. He’s already been that guy multiple times.

This is a guy who’s so strong defensively that he shut down a top two player of all-time in LeBron James for his first Finals MVP, and a guy who’s such an elite all-around player in general that he ended the Warriors’ dynasty.

There’s really nothing he can’t do, and proved that by ending two of the greatest dynasties in basketball history like that. If he can take down the James-Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh ‘Heatles,’ and if he can take down the Kevin Durant-Steph Curry-Klay Thompson-Andre Iguodala-DeMarcus Cousins Warriors, who can he not stop in the Western Conference this year?

No teams in the West are as good as those two dynasties were.

In the 2019 postseason, Leonard averaged over 30 points per game. Yes, that was three seasons ago and in the Eastern Conference, but he averaged over 30 points per game last postseason too.

He’s more than capable of dropping 30 a game when he gets back to 100% this postseason, and has averaged nine or more rebounds per game in the playoffs three separate times. The Clippers were in the bottom half of the league in rebounding last year, so getting that type of production back for the playoffs will have a massive impact on the team.

He’s also averaged two steals per game in the postseason three different times, and did just last year. Speaking of last year, he had the best shooting percentage of his career in the postseason at 57.3%. That’s about as dominant as it gets, especially when we’re talking about a player who once shot 43.3% from deep in his last four postseasons with the San Antonio Spurs.

His playoff resume is there, and he just played at just as high of a level (or better) in many categories than he ever has, proving he’s still got this ability in him. The ceiling of Kawhi Leonard is somebody who can come into the postseason, when we need him most, and put up 30+ points, 9+ rebounds and 2+ steals per game while being a 50/40/85 shooter.

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It’s the player he’s been so many times in his career, and the player he was starting to be before the injury forced him to cut his season short. This type of player is still in Leonard, and if he’s fully healthy by the time the playoffs start, we’re going to see it. Having another year to be developed by one of the best coaches in the league in Ty Lue, that ceiling is undoubtedly attainable.