The San Antonio Spurs have gone more than a quarter of the way through the 2017-18 season without perennial MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard. They now have an official date for his return.
According to the Express-News, he is set to return Saturday night against the Phoenix Suns. The plan is to have Leonard skip the first end of a back-to-back, which takes place Friday against the Boston Celtics.
The Express-News also reported that Leonard took part in a workout session Thursday, and if he doesn’t experience any setbacks, he’ll be given the green light for the Saturday game. “It’s been a long wait, but I’m feeling pretty healthy right now,” Leonard said.
With Leonard’s return on the horizon, the Spurs are set to join the NBA’s elite. The Spurs have enjoyed a solid start to the year, going 17-8 in a tough Western Conference. Leonard's return jolts the team up to the ranks of the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets.
Leonard is the league’s premier two way-player, excelling at both ends of the floor. He is up for the Defensive Player of the Year award each year, and last year he was in the running for the MVP award, which went to Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook.
Leonard has won the defensive award twice and been selected to two All-Star Games. In the meantime, head coach Gregg Popovich has leaned on Kyle Anderson, who recently suffered an injury, and NBA veteran Rudy Gay.
An ankle injury forced Leonard out of the 2017 Playoffs, but quadriceps tendinopathy kept him out of the lineup this season. He has had to pass multiple conditioning tests and practices before returning to the court.
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