The LA Clippers are scheduled to start the 2021-22 season without Kawhi Leonard. Unfortunately, there’s no timetable for his return following offseason surgery on a partially torn ACL.
The team signed Leonard, Reggie Jackson, Nicolas Batum, and Justise Winslowwhile trading for Eric Bledsoe, setting themselves up for an immediate future without their two-time NBA Finals MVP.
Kawhi Leonard’s absence sets the stage for increased opportunities across the roster. His impact on both ends of the floor can’t be replaced, but the Clippers can play a different brand of basketball around Paul George. Different guys will have to step up.
Here are three candidates I believe will have increased opportunities and benefit the most while Kawhi Leonard is recovering from his offseason surgery.
Reggie Jackson was the primary beneficiary of Kawhi Leonard’s injury during the playoffs. In eight games without Leonard, Jackson posted 21.4 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists, and 1.6 steals on 48.5 percent shooting from the field and 37 percent from beyond the arc. Those would’ve been career highs in scoring and field goal percentage.
With Leonard out, a large portion of the ball-handling load is going to be placed on Big Government’s shoulders. It’s why the Clippers made it an absolute priority to retain him in free agency.
Add in the fact that both Patrick Beverley as well as Rajon Rondo were traded last week, and Jackson might just be the second-most important player for the Clippers behind Paul George.