Head coach Tyronn Lue told reporters Friday that the Los Angeles Clippers star is expected to return from the knee injury that kept him out of the entire 2021-22 season during Monday’s preseason game against the Portland Path Blazers.
Leonard appeared to be doing well throughout the follow-up, Lue told reporters earlier this week.
He said, “He looked really good. “Seeing that I went through all the parts and practices was nice.
After suffering from “a partially torn ACL” and undergoing surgery to repair the injury, Leonard has not played since June 14, 2021, during a victory against the Utah Jazz in Game 4 of the NBA Playoffs.
Following a long offseason of rehabilitation and weight training, the 31-year-old revealed earlier this week that he felt “stronger” heading into the 2022–23 season:
“I feel stronger, yeah. I feel stronger for positive. It’s been, what, 14, 15 months of no basketball — effectively, enjoying an NBA season for me, no basketball. That entire 13, 14-month course is simply lifting, lifting weights, and getting stronger. However, I positively acquired quite a bit stronger.”
Along with Paul George, the two-time NBA champion will play a key role for the Clippers in 2022-23.
In his first season with the team, he averaged 27.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 4.9 assists, and 1.8 steal in 57 games while shooting 47% from the floor and 37.8% from deep en route to an All-Star selection.
The Clippers made it to the Western Conference semifinals that season but were defeated in seven games by the Denver Nuggets.
In his second season in Los Angeles, he averaged 24.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 5.2 assists, and 1.6 steals in 52 games while shooting 51.2% from the field and 39.8% from beyond the arc.
The combination of Leonard, George, and John Wall should be enough to get the Clippers back into the playoffs in 2022-23. Nonetheless, only time will tell if the trio can bring the franchise its first NBA championship.