In a season where the health status and timetable for return of San Antonio Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard found itself surrounded in constant mystery, reporters received the first significant update on Leonard in months. On Monday, Leonard spoke with reporters for the first time since September and indicated his return to the court and a 2017 season debut grew closer.
Leonard, who is dealing with a right quad tendinopathy he suffered last season, hasn't played a game since the playoffs last season. Initial reports on his status during the preseason made it appear he would return early in the year, but Leonard could never cleared for practice as the quad injury continued to heal slowly and the Spurs' medical staff exercised extreme caution.
In Leonard's absence, the Spurs continue to find ways to win. As of Tuesday, San Antonio sits third in the Western Conference and just 0.5 game back of the Golden State Warriors. The team aslo just got point guard Tony Parker back in December; meanwhile, power forward LaMarcus Aldridge is showing his ex-Portland Trail Blazers form with 22.8 points per game, 1.2 blocks per game and 8.2 rebounds per game.
When Leonard returns, San Antonio will certainly look to bring him along slowly. But once he returns to form, the Spurs will regain one of the NBA's best players and the team's performance should only continue to rise after.
The opportunity to buy low on Leonard is closing, so make the final pushes to try and acquire him in your fantasy leagues. Kyle Anderson, who saw extended run with Leonard out, recently suffered a sprained MCL and is out two to three weeks, so Leonard may make his return right before Simmons. Upon Leonard's return, Aldridge might see a dip in usage, but could become a more effective shooter and thus retain his fantasy value.