Kawhi Leonard was 21 years old the last time he came off the bench. It was his first game back after missing nearly a month due to quadriceps tendinitis. He was in his second season in the NBA. He spent some time recovering with the Austin Toros, the G League affiliate of the San Antonio Spurs at the time.
The other 57 games that season that Leonard played in saw Leonard start. Even as a rookie, he started the majority of his games. Ask Russell Westbrook how it will feel if he ever starts from the bench again.
The Los Angeles Clippers will utilize the two-time Finals MVP as a sixth man against the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night, which turns out to be the team’s season-opening game. Tyronn Lue will be in charge of that.
Lawrence Frank, the president of the Clippers, made it clear before training camp that the team would be careful when it came to Kawhi Leonard’s recovery from an ACL tear. This change makes it easier for the coaching staff to manage the rotation and ensure Leonard is accessible at the end of games if he is going to be subject to a stringent minutes cap. The Golden State Warriors brought Stephen Curry off the bench at the start of the 2022 playoffs for the same reason.
Curry was referred to as “the best sixth man in the history of the playoffs” by Denver Nuggets coach Michael Malone during the Warriors’ first-round matchup. Curry faces some competition for the title of Greatest Fake Sixth Man Ever now that Leonard won’t be starting for the Clippers against the Los Angeles Lakers in their season opener. However, this isn’t the playoffs.