With Leonard’s load management being a big topic of discussion, the past couple of games have shown how the Toronto Raptors have been taking the right course of action.
There has been a constant debate around the team’s decision to rest the 27-year-old on the second half of back-to-back games and the odd game where the team doesn’t need their best player in the lineup. This hasn’t been supported by the majority of the fanbase but you can’t argue by the results it’s having on the court.
In the past two games against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Leonard has played 42 (including overtime) and 35 minutes playing in two of the past three days. What’s more important is the production he’s providing.
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Leonard continues to average a career-best 27.2 points, 7.4 rebounds per game while playing a 34:31 minutes which is the most he’s averaged in his career. Let’s not forget that he’s also being asked to defend against the top opposing players like Paul George and Russell Westbrook.
The Raptors and Leonard know that the playoffs are the true test considering the schedule is tougher and the intensity ramps up but looking back at Leonard’s history in San Antonio, he lives for the postseason.
Leonard has also been very transparent about his health and his concern about re-injuring himself after the ordeal he went through last season. This is a player who will look to capitalize on what could be a big payday whether he stays in Toronto or pursues other options.
"“We’ll see how it goes moving forward, but me missing games isn’t just to keep me fresh,” said Leonard to Sportsnet’s Michael Grange. “It’s obviously making sure I don’t re-injure something that I was out for last year. Like I said before they’ve been doing a good job of reading images and making sure that I’m improving instead of declining on the health side.“It feels a lot better than when I started the season. There was a little spell where it kind of plateaued but everybody brought their minds together and we figured out a way and now things are looking good and I’m feeling good.”"
At this point, the concern has to be about Kyle Lowry‘s health after a couple of separate injuries have seen him miss time. There is no denying the impact Lowry has on the court and how it impacts the different rotations Nick Nurse can throw out.
Fred VanVleet has shown that he can fill in for Lowry but that limits what the Raptors can do especially against smaller lineups. Luckily for them, they have versatile defenders like Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby and Danny Green but they also need their other depth options to step up.
What do you think about Leonard’s load management this season? Are you concerned about his health going into the playoffs? Let us know in the comments below.