San Antonio Spurs News

San Antonio Spurs: The eve of Kawhi Leonard’s potential return

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OAKLAND, CA - MAY 14: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs shoots a free throw during the game against the Golden State Warriors during Game One of the Western Conference Finals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs on May 14, 2017 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - MAY 14: Kawhi Leonard #2 of the San Antonio Spurs shoots a free throw during the game against the Golden State Warriors during Game One of the Western Conference Finals of the 2017 NBA Playoffs on May 14, 2017 at ORACLE Arena in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2017 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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It’s the potential eve of Kawhi Leonard’s season debut for the San Antonio Spurs. Let the speculation begin.

Monday will be another off day for the San Antonio Spurs, before taking the court on Tuesday. It’s a game against the Dallas Mavericks, one that may be a landmark matchup for the Silver and Black, and it has nothing to do with the opponent.

By now, you potentially heard Kawhi Leonard’s target date is Tuesday vs. the Mavs. He’s yet to play in the 2017-18 season, due to a still-mysterious quad injury. It happened in the offseason, but how and its severity weren’t revealed.

Without Leonard, the Spurs are 19-8, a record beyond anything imagined. When a team loses its star player, it makes everything tougher. Players go out of position to fill a role, some or all of which can’t replace the production of the injured superstar. Through 27 games, this didn’t apply to San Antonio, who didn’t miss a beat in the Western Conference. It received a rebound performance from LaMarcus Aldridge and a breakout campaign from Kyle Anderson, not exactly making everyone say “Kawhi who?” but soften the blow.

Having Leonard back pushes everyone down the scoring pecking order. It takes the pressure off Aldridge, as when he had a poor game, there wasn’t an alpha to recover the lost points. Luckily, the five-time All-Star kept those games to a minimum.

Players like Danny Green and Rudy Gay may take fewer shots. Obviously, that potentially means their averages dip, but pushing them down only deepens the team’s scorer depth.

Last week, we also noted the likely “ins and outs” of the rotation. Someone will either lose minutes or find a “DNP-Coach’s Decision” next to their name, when Leonard returns from injury. Brandon Paul, if we had to guess, could be the guy.

Next: Top 25 players in Spurs history

‘Tis the season, because Leonard’s return is almost here. Will he bring some holiday cheer?

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