The San Antonio Spurs may have found a way to break out of their second-half slump. According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs could make his return as early as Thursday against the New Orleans Pelicans. Leonard has not played since January 13, as he’s dealt with a quad injury that goes as far back as last season.
Leonard has played in just nine games this season with averages of 16.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists. On January 17, the Spurs announced that Leonard would be out “indefinitely” and then to make matter worse, Gregg Popovich said that he wouldn’t be surprised if Leonard would not return this season.
What that statement did was open up the floodgates of questions concerning Leonard’s future with the team.
Kawhi Leonard returning for the Spurs could not come at a better time. The Spurs have lost eight of their last ten games to drop to seventh in the Western Conference. With his return, will it be enough for the Spurs to fight off the Los Angeles Clippers, Utah Jazz, and Denver Nuggets, who all sit less than two games back? As crazy as it sounds, the Spurs are in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 1996.
This season, in Leonard’s absence, the Spurs have had to lean heavily on the services of LaMarcus Aldridge (22 points, 8.3 rebounds). With Leonard gone, most of his minutes have gone to Kyle Anderson (8.2 points, 5.7 rebounds) but he’s no Leonard. While the offense has struggled, the Spurs are still No. 1 in terms of opponents point per game (99.6). Defense has always been a staple of a Popovich-led team and this season has been no different even without their best defensive player.
Can Leonard Save The Spurs Season Is The Big Question?
The Spurs have 14 games left on the regular season schedule and will finish the season with 12 games against teams in the playoff chase. The only teams not fighting for a spot are the Los Angeles Lakers and the Orlando Magic. Leonard coming back may right the ship for the Spurs but if they continue to struggle, then his return was for nothing.