The LA Clippers have officially ruled Kawhi Leonard out for their Wednesday night game against the Golden State Warriors. He was diagnosed with a left ankle sprain and will now miss his 14th game of the season.
After the announcement was made that Leonard would be sidelined yet again, Kendrick Perkins couldn’t hold back and tweeted:
“If they calling AD [Anthony Davis] ‘street clothes,’ then what the hell are we calling Kawhi Leonard, ‘Pajamas’? I mean, damn! Carry on…”
Anthony Davis has received a ton of flak over the last three years for his inability to stay healthy. He has played only 152 games, including this season, since signing with the LA Lakers three years ago. Due to the scrutiny of playing alongside LeBron James, he has been labeled as soft and called “street clothes.”
Kawhi Leonard, on the other hand, has played only 114 games since leaving the Toronto Raptors for the LA Clippers and linking up with Paul George. He has already missed 13 of the Clippers’ 18 games this season.
Leonard just hasn’t gotten the same backlash as Davis because he hardly talks and stays away from controversy in any form.
After the game against the Utah Jazz, where he only played for 23 minutes, Leonard was upbeat, saying that he only rolled his ankle. The Clippers, however, don’t want to take chances and promptly announced that he would be sidelined.
Coach Ty Lue, in a postgame interview after the Jazz game called Leonard’s ankle roll “nasty.” With the way the Clippers have been treating their superstar, it wasn’t surprising that they’ve officially ruled him out.
The Clippers don’t want Kawhi Leonard to overcompensate with a gimpy ankle as it could affect his knee and thigh. He’s had a long history of knee and thigh injuries, so LA is erring with caution.
When healthy, “The Claw” makes the LA Clippers an elite team. Leonard is averaging only 10.0 points in five games on 42.2% shooting, including a ghastly 13% from 3-point range. His presence, however, could change the entire complex of Ty Lue’s team on both ends of the floor.
The LA Clippers are unsurprisingly a different team when Kawhi Leonard is available
Per StatMuse, the LA Clippers have an offensive rating of 108.4 when Kawhi Leonard is off. When the two-time NBA Finals MVP plays, that figure goes up to 109.7. The increase may not be that much, but considering Leonard has been playing in limited minutes, that’s already something.
The Clippers’ defense also becomes a little more stout when the former two-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year is available. They have a 109.9 defensive rating without Leonard and have a 109.0 figure when he plays. Again, this has been Leonard’s impact in just a little over 22 minutes in five games.
Ty Lue knows what Kawhi Leonard can do when fully healthy. He’s still one of the NBA’s best two-way players and is a proven winner. The LA Clippers don’t want him to have any lingering foot and knee issues as the season moves forward.
LA is hoping they’ll have the best version of “The Claw” when the games matter the most.