The Toronto Raptors have been exceptionally careful with Kawhi Leonard‘s return from his nagging quad injury. Leonard’s leg was at least part of the reason he sat out for most of the year in San Antonio in 2017-18, and there’s been no rush in Toronto to agitate his quad further.
Leonard has played in just 26 of Toronto’s 35 games this season, and has not played on back-to-back nights yet. The team has listed Leonard as out due to “load management” recently, drawing some chuckles from the internet’s peanut gallery.
But Leonard’s rest schedule could be about to change drastically in the new year as Raptors coach Nick Nurse mentioned to ESPN’s Tim Bontemps this week
“I think we are there,” Nurse said. “I think, after we get here to the new year, we’ll be there.
“No promises, but I think we’re there.”
Leonard has been back to his old self when he is on the court this year, and all of his advanced numbers are generally around where they’ve been in Seasons past with the Spurs. Toronto fans have been encouraged by his strong play, and for good reason.
Leonard is a key cog for the Raptors the season. Toronto has struggled with legitimacy in the playoffs each year, and perennial foe LeBron James being in Los Angeles with the Lakers hasn’t helped the confidence of many who have watched the Raptors flame out in the postseason. A fully healthy Leonard should help Toronto ballast themselves come spring.
For now, this is a step toward the eventual goal of a deep playoff run for the Raptors.