The LA Clippers find themselves in familiar waters as they begin the season without Kawhi Leonard in the lineup. Considering the impact Leonard had on the team’s success, former NBA champion Richard Jefferson highlighted how his absence will affect the team going forward.
The LA Clippers are widely regarded as one of the best teams this season. With the superstar duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers also showcase some extremely talented players deep within their roster.
While this assessment of the Clippers’ roster strength is true, the team hasn’t had the most successful start to the season. With a 4-4 record after Wednesday’s win over the Houston Rockets, the Los Angeles team is just .500.
Many of their poor performances could be attributed to the absence of Kawhi Leonard. After suffering a minor knee injury, Leonard has missed six games this season.
Former NBA champion Richard Jefferson took the opportunity to shed some light on the impact Leonard’s injury has had on the LA Clippers’ chances this season. Speaking about it on NBA Countdown, Jefferson said:
“I was the person who got a lot of heat at the start of the year because I said I didn’t believe in the Clippers. Everything about the Clippers organization is up to Kawhi Leonard.”
Jefferson gave Leonard props for winning a championship with the Toronto Raptors. However, his criticisms began with Leonard’s tenure with the LA Clippers. He added:
“After that they were 3-1 up in the bubble. It didn’t go well. It wasn’t just Paul George, Kawhi Leonard had a lot of that. He was struggling with that. Then he had a entire off season.
“So when I watch this, am I just going to blame them and say they’re the team that’s going to win the championship this year? Oh no. They should be very worried in Clipper country. Because he got like – 18 months off And he has trouble playing in games.
“I’m for him. I want him to be healthy. But you should be worried. The organization should be worried.”
Since playing against the Phoenix Suns on Oct. 23, Leonard has been out of the rotation recovering from an injury.
The Clippers are starting to adjust to playing without him as he has now missed five games. But such an approach will not benefit them as they hope to bring the title back to Los Angeles this season.
LA Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard expected to miss more games
LA Clippers find themselves in a difficult position vis-à-vis Kawhi Leonard. According to recent reports, he is set to miss at least two or three more games as he manages his knee injury.
Since Leonard was knocked out of games, the Clippers have gone 2-3. That includes a three-game losing slide that came right after their loss to the Phoenix Suns.
A recent report from Ohm Youngmisuk of The Athletic also gave some insight into Leonard’s injury. While outlining the nature of the injury, Youngmisuk mentioned that the decision to sit out was made by the Clippers organization.
It could have been to preserve Leonard longer in the regular season and in the playoffs. However, this places a heavy burden on Paul George.
Coming off of tough wins over the Houston Rockets in their last two outings, the LA Clippers have managed to turn things around. However, with Leonard out for the foreseeable future, the team will have their work cut out for them.