Kawhi Leonard’s Worrying Injury Could Rob Him Off a Trip to The Paris Olympics After Team USA Rumors Gain Traction

Published 04/16/2024, 8:43 AM EDT

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USA Today via Reuters

The 2024 Paris Olympics is set to be one of the most significant sporting events of the current year. With the same approaching closer, reports circulate stating that the USA’s basketball roster is being finalized, with lead NBA scorers like Kevin Durant, LeBron James and Stephen Curry reportedly securing a spot. Amongst the players being considered as the top choice to fill the final remaining position within Team USA is LA Clippers small forward Kawhi Leonard. However, recent circumstances may end up hampering those chances.

Kawhi Leonard developed a right knee inflammation after a matchup against the Charlotte Hornets as March came to a close. Since then, the player has missed eight consecutive games, including his team’s final regular season game against the Houston Rockets. While an MRI conducted in the aftermath of the injury reportedly confirmed that it “did not show anything that would cause the Clippers significant concern,” Leonard’s continued absence has raised some serious questions about his availability. After all, it is the same knee in which an injury back in 2021 had threatened to tear his ACL and where the player developed a meniscus during the 2023 playoffs.

Much less the Olympics, Kawhi Leonard’s availability during the upcoming playoffs is questionable as well. During a Q & A session with reporters, Clippers head coach Ty Lue did not make any significant revelations on the recovery process. When asked if the player will be present during Game 1 of the playoffs, the coach replied “That is what we want to see” and “Hopefully, he will be playing.” The latest person to speak out about the availability of the two-time NBA champion was renowned reporter Adrian Wojnarowski, whose sources reveal to him that there is still some hope for the player going forward.


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“In the past, there is always some mystery around Kawhi Leonard injuries that sometimes turn out to be worse than perhaps first described. I’m told that is not the case here,” said Wojnarowski. “They have to quell this inflammation…. they’ve got the week to continue to give him that treatment to get him back”. 

The 12 spot continues to remain unfilled till now. Whether Kawhi Leonard will manage to fill it all depends on his quick recovery and whether he will be present during the playoffs.

Why is Kawhi Leonard necessary to be in Team USA during the Paris Olympics?


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There is a reason why Kawhi Leonard is being floated as the top choice to fill the 12th spot on the Team USA roster. Not only is he the highest average scorer of the Clippers this season, but he also ranks as no 18 in that category when considering the top players from other franchises. His high-scoring ability and consistency speak to what he can contribute when representing his country internationally.

Having appeared in 68 of the Clippers’ 82 games this season, the 6x NBA All-Star has managed to average 23.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists. He scored a season-high 41 points in December and proceeded to record his second overall triple-double a few months later against the Lakers. With the current Team USA having only James, Durant and Jayson Tatum as forwards, there is a need to add another high scorer who can take the offensive initiative going into the game.


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Along with his scoring prowess, Leonard also possesses a higher shooting ability than some of his counterparts and rivals. His current free throw percentage stands at 88.5%, while 52.5% of his field goal attempts yield positive results. While many top players find their 3-pointer percentage to below 40%, the Clippers star barely misses getting on that list thanks to his 41.7%.


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USA Today via Reuters

If Kawhi Leonard cannot make the Olympics roster, then other players like Paul George or Jalen Brunson can take his place. However, having been considered for this opportunity after spending 13 years in the NBA, fans will hope that the player recovers soon and heads out to France during the July-August period to win the fifth consecutive Olympic gold for his country.


Written by:

Ashmit Kumar


One take at a time

Ashmit is an NBA Content Analyst at EssentiallySports. Having started as a writer, he specializes in writing captivating stories that include the elements of in-depth coverage of teams, players and more. Due to his knowledge of the technicalities of the sport, Ashmit writes perspective pieces that provide well-researched analysis.
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Edited by:

Shivatmika Manvi