Will Kawhi Leonard Play the 2021-22 NBA Season Following ACL Injury?

Published 09/08/2021, 11:58 PM EDT
Mar 24, 2021; San Antonio, Texas, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) reacts after scoring a basket against the San Antonio Spurs the first quarter at AT&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports


With the NBA season only a month away, all teams are gearing up to compete. However, one team will enter with a major handicap for the coming season. The Los Angeles Clippers face the loss of Kawhi Leonard due to a partial ACL tear.

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Leonard has been out since the playoff series against the Jazz. Moreover, there was a lot of drama over his decision in free agency, but he decided to re-sign with the Clippers. But, how exactly did Kawhi Leonard pick up such a severe injury?

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What happened to Kawhi Leonard?

The ‘Klaw’ was going on a tear in the playoffs as he does. He was averaging 30 points, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists. He was putting on a showcase of true two-way basketball, leading the Clippers from the front. However, Game 4 of the Conference semi-finals changed everything.

On an offensive possession, Leonard seemed to land awkwardly on his knee. Hence, he instantly went out of play, as he knew something was wrong with his leg. Initially, the Clippers’ medical team did not think of it as an ACL injury. On the other hand, Kawhi’s personal medical team identified the severity.

Since then, Kawhi has undergone surgery on his knee and started his rehab process. His injury was kept under the wraps for a while as the Clippers only came out with news of it after the Jazz series. Previously, they had thought it was a knee injury and Leonard could return for Game 5 against Utah.

Jun 6, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) reacts during the second half in game seven of the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

While the Clippers missed his services, Paul George played a big part in leading them to the first Conference finals in franchise history. With high hopes for the duo now, when will Kawhi return?

When will we see the ‘Klaw’?

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There is no clear timeline as to when Kawhi will return for the coming season. However, it is safe to assume that he will miss a good portion of the regular season. Leonard’s injury is similar to Brooklyn’s Spencer Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie’s rehab was considered quick, and he still took 6 months to get back in game shape.

May 28, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; LA Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) drives to the basket past Dallas Mavericks forward Dorian Finney-Smith (10) during the first quarter in game three in the first round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at this, can we expect Leonard to return anytime in the next season? As Kawhi has a history of injuries, he needs to go through a complete rehab process.

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Hence, looking at all the factors here, if Leonard does return, he will do so during the playoffs. He could return late into the playoffs if the Clippers manage to make it that far. With several seasons guaranteed, Leonard’s focus will be to clear his injury, even if it means sitting out for the 2021-22 campaign.

Do you think the Clippers can survive without the ‘Klaw’? Let us know in the comments below.

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Anuj Talwalkar

272 articles

Anuj Talwalkar is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He is a student studying at NM College in Mumbai, aspiring to pursue sports management to follow his love for sports. Anuj started following the NBA last year, and he loves to combine his passion for writing with his understanding of basketball.

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