The Los Angeles Clippers finally did the impossible last season by making it to the Western Conference Finals.
Unfortunately, they were without Kawhi Leonard so fans were left wondering what could have been different if he never went down with a knee injury.
His injury was a mystery for some time until he had surgery for what was deemed an ACL injury.
Leonard had surgery in the middle of July and the rehab process immediately started.
So what is his timetable?
Usually we would look at a timeline of around nine months to a year, depending on the severity of the initial injury.
Even nine months keeps Leonard out until right around the start of the postseason.
For now, no one seems to know anything for sure.
Lawrence Frank on Kawhi Leonard returning from ACL injury: "He has a detailed plan with a great group, we'll let this body and the doctors tell us when it's the right time."
— Farbod Esnaashari (@Farbod_E) September 24, 2021
It has only been about two months, so it is still early to even really get an update on his progress as training camp is set to begin.
Planning Without Leonard
Paul George is now the star of the show and will be likely for the duration of the entire season.
An ideal scenario is Leonard returning for the postseason, or maybe a few games to tune up at the end of the regular season.
But there should be no plans in place for him to return during the year, as that itself could serve as a distraction.
Everyone is just going to have to step up.
The team will rely on Reggie Jackson to play as well as he did last year, which included an average of over 17 points per game in the postseason.
Marcus Morris will also take on a major role as the Clippers look to form a contender with George as the focal point.
Getting Over The Hump
The Clippers made it to the Conference Finals last season for the first time in franchise history.
That in itself was a major obstacle to overcome.
But the goal remains to win a championship, and not just get close.
Doing that without Leonard is going to be a tall task, but the Clippers did take two games from the Phoenix Suns in last year’s Western Conference Finals without him.
Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard in a hoodie that said “Clip gang or don’t bang” on the front with a picture of Paul George and Marcus Morris flexing after Leonard’s playoff dunk on Mavericks’ Maxi Kleber on the back pic.twitter.com/2iEOjpJany
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) September 17, 2021
Perhaps his absence lets the team flow more freely with George leading the way as the most dominant player on the floor.
And in a best-case scenario, the Clippers have a solid regular season and get Leonard back right for the start of the postseason with an optimal plan for how to insert him back into the lineup.
He can take his time, get back to full strength in terms of any ailments he has in addition to his knee, and can provide an unfair bonus no other team will get.