Kawhi Leonard is still recovering from an ACL tear that caused him to miss the entire 2021-22 season. He played in only five of the Clippers’ first 18 games this season, averaging just 22.4 mpg with three starts and two off the bench.

The stated goal early in the season was for Leonard to run at a minute limit of around 20 mpg and then gradually increase to normal minutes as his health and wind picked up speed. Unfortunately, after the second game, his knee began to hurt and he had to sit for almost a month.

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Now he’s back and back in the starting lineup, playing at level 20 in terms of MPG as he starts the plan to get in shape again.

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The question for the fantasy basketball managers who made the roster and kept Leonard for the first month is this: is it worth the wait? If you hold out until he returns to full speed, what can you expect from him?

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Let’s project forward with a quick look at the past.

Kawhi missed 73 games in 2017/18 after tearing his quadriceps tendon, similar to how he sat last season. When Kawai returned, these were his averages over the next three seasons:

26.2 points (49.1% from the field, 87.4 feet), 7.0 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 2.0 3 games

Averages per game are high. They will rack up 47.2 fantasy points per game, currently ranked 14th in the NBA this season, just behind Pascal Siakam (48.4 FP/G) and just ahead of LeBron James (46.2 FP/G). ), Ja Morant (45.9 FP/G). G) and Devin Booker (45.3 pts/gt).

Looking at these numbers and names, it’s clear that the healthy Leonard is a franchise player in both the NBA and fantasy basketball. In one league where I drafted Leonard, my friend Kyle named Kawhi as a “potential league winner” as a third round pick…and why those numbers/names.

Everyone will be waiting for such an advantage, right?

Then why, when I was recently asked about the fantastic draft pick I regret the most this season, did I tell Kawhi to pick the same third round pick?

A couple of reasons. First, Leonard’s absence during the first month of the season was costly. The War Room League I included it in is a league with daily H2H Points transactions, and we’ve already played five games. My team, which I share with my co-manager Stefania, is 0-5…by far the worst team I have ever met in all my leagues.

But let’s take a closer look.

In Week 3, our team lost to the squeaker by 40 fantasy points (1218-1178) and Leonard didn’t play a single game. In week five, our team lost a heartbreaking 15 fantastic points (1151-1136) with Leonard playing part-time.

There were other games where a healthy Kawai might have made us competitive enough to get another win or two, but at least even moderately below average Kawai would be good for two extra wins and we’d be in win. leagues per month. Instead, this team is already in crisis mode.

So yes, when I look at what my only Kawhi team has been so far and what it could have been, I regret missing out on players like Donovan Mitchell in that league…so far. But the premise of this article is what can we expect from Kawhi moving forward once he has his legs fully up? So, back to his averages per game over the last three seasons, but add one more key line:

26.2 points (49.1% from the field, 87.4 feet), 7.0 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 2.0 3 games

…and 19 missed games per season (out of 75.3 games per season due to scheduling changes due to COVID-19)

You see, even when Leonard was as healthy as he could be for the last three seasons, he still missed almost exactly one game out of every four. This was mainly due to workload management as he planned not to play in both halves in a row, in addition to his scheduled workload management days.

It seems very likely that even when he fully picks up speed this season, he will continue to play at the same pace as 75% of games.

If you have Leonard on your team and you are in a league with weekly squad management transactions, that means his rate is 75%. While 47.2 FP/G would be 14th in the NBA, 75% of 47.2 FP or 35.4 FP would tie with Andrew Wiggins at 50th in the NBA. Still a strong guy, but not as exciting as waiting for a Morant/Booker sized punch.

In daily transaction leagues, Leonard is more valuable because you could theoretically have other players on your lineup to replace him in some of the games he misses. Not all of them… for example, if he misses a rare NBA day, you probably won’t be able to replace him on that day.

But if you have a busy schedule like many Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays, you can replace Kawhi’s 47 Fantasy Points with a player capable of giving you 25 or 30 Fantasy Points. Still not perfect, but maybe closer to 88% Kawhi instead of 75%… or around 41.5 FP/G on average.

That would put him 25th in the league alongside Fred VanVleet, just behind Bradley Beal and right ahead of Domantas Sabonis. These are still very exciting names and a big influence on fantasy. But…remember that Kawhi’s absence could already cost your team several wins in a season where every win counts.

In such scenarios, is VanVleet-sized impact enough to get your team back into a possible playoff race? Your mileage may vary.

The bottom line is that if you chose Kawhi Leonard on your fantasy basketball team and kept him, you’ve already paid some serious money and are really looking forward to the potential payoff of being listed as one of the best players in the NBA.

Just be aware that despite having more per game stats than the elite, he will likely miss one out of every four games going forward, even at as close to full health as possible. The risk of re-injury should also be considered.

So my advice is to wait and hope that it reaches full kawaii mode in the near future. If-and-when he does, enjoy it and make as much of it as possible with your league mates.

Just don’t act like you’re trying to trade it. Instead, play it like you’re talking rubbish. If you win a close match with a big Kawhi or two to put your team in first place, tell your opponent some crazy bullshit about how brilliant you were to keep him going during his injury recovery.

Do the same every time he misses a 40-point game or hits the game-winning shot that tops the top 10 on SportsCenter. Keep the Kawhi name in the most positive way. Then trade it in immediately once you can calmly negotiate a deal that is worth its 47.2 FP/G average rather than its 75% rate.

That’s what I would do… you know, if I didn’t talk about it publicly, where all 13 of my War Room league mates on Sportzshala could read it.