LA Clippers superstar Kawhi Leonard is considered to be one of the 10 best players in the NBA, though he often finds himself sitting out games due to load management. However, with the NBA cracking down on load management and Clippers coach Tyron Lue wanting his two stars to play more, Kawhi has plenty of motivation to suit up this season. So much so that he has set his sights on a rare feat in today’s NBA.
Kawhi’s goal of playing all 82 games is definitely ambitious, especially considering his long injury history. But even if he only plays around 70 games, that would be a huge improvement over previous seasons.
Kawhi’s ambitious goal will make him an MVP candidate for the Clippers
Despite being one of the best players in the NBA and having two NBA Final MVPs, Kawhi has yet to win a league MVP. The closest he came was finishing third in MVP voting in 2016-17 behind Russell Westbrook and James Harden—his two current teammates.
In retrospect, he probably should have won that MVP, but injury issues and load management have prevented him from competing for another. It’s no coincidence that the last time he played more than 70 games in a season, he was an MVP candidate.
He’s one of the most impactful players in the NBA, but that gets overshadowed by the DNPs, and voters simply can’t choose him over players such as Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, and Joel Embiid. They all play more games than Kawhi has in recent years and their teams have benefited from having their best players play more often.
The LA Clippers just acquired star James Harden from the Sixers and while he could help them, there are five ways trading for him could backfire.
Ultimately, Kawhi is likely to fall short of his goal of playing all 82 games. Fortunately, his aiming that high should lead to him playing more than 70 games, and the last time he played that many games he was an MVP candidate. If he can, then he could get himself back in the MVP conversation and perhaps even win it, depending on how well the Clippers perform this season.