Is it worth waiting for Kawhi to come along?

Kawhi Leonard The torn ACL that forced him to miss 2021-22 is still a major concern. With three starts and two bench appearances, he has played only five games in the Clippers' first season of 18 games. His average MPG is 22.4 with only three starts.

Leonard had set a goal to start the season with a limit of 20 MPG. He would then gradually ramp up to normal as his health and winds improved. After game two, he began to feel pain in his knee and was forced to rest for almost a month.

He's now back and playing in the lower 20s in terms MPG, as he works to regain his fitness.

Fantasy basketball managers who have retained Leonard for the first month are now asking the question: Will it be worth it? What should you expect of him if you wait until he returns to full speed?

Let's start moving forward by looking back at the past.

Kawhi missed the 2017-18 season due to quadriceps tendon injuries. He was similar to last season's sitting. These were his averages during Kawhi's three subsequent seasons.

26.2 PPG (49.1 F%, 87.4 FL%)

Strong per-game averages. These would translate into 47.2 fantasy points per match, which would place them 14th in the NBA. Pascal Siakam (48.5 FP/G) just ahead LeBron James (46.2 FP/G), Ja Morant (45.9 FFP/G) Devin Booker (45.3 FP/G).

These numbers and these names make it clear that a healthy Leonard can be a franchise player in fantasy and NBA basketball. Kyle, my friend who drafted Leonard in one league, called Kawhi “a potential league champion” as a third round pick. These numbers and names are why.

That type of upside would be something everyone would want, right?

When asked recently about the fantasy draft decision I regret most this season, I said that I chose Kawhi, the same third-round selection.

Two reasons. The first is that Leonard was not available for the first month. He is currently a War Room player in a daily transaction league that awards H2H points. We have played five games so this far. My team, which I share my co-manager Stephania is 0-5… the worst I've seen in any of my leagues.

Let's take a closer look.

The team lost a squeaker in Week 3 by 40 fantasy point (1,218-1,178), with Leonard not participating in a game. The team lost by 15 fantasy points in Week 5 (between 1,218 and 1,178), with Leonard playing only part-time.

There were other games where a healthy Kawhi may have made us competitive enough to snag another victory or two, but at the very least an even moderately-below-average Kawhi would've been good for two additional victories and have us right in the mix of the league a month in. This team is in crisis mode.

When I think about what my Kawhi team has been up to now, and what it could have done, I regret losing players like Donovan Mitchell So far, in that league. The point of this article is to ask what we can expect from Kawhi as he gains his legs under him. Let's go back to the per-game averages from the previous three seasons and add one key line.

26.2 PPG (49.1 F%, 87.4 FL%)

…and 19 missing games per season (out 75.3 total games, due COVID-19 schedule adjustments)

Even though Leonard was in his best health over the past three seasons, almost every fourth game he missed has been because of injury. He planned to avoid playing in the back-to-backs and instead take load management days.

It's highly likely that even though he's up to speed, he'll keep going at the same play-75%-of games pace.

If Leonard is on your team and there are weekly roster management transactions, this translates into a 75% rate for Leonard. 47.2 FPG would be 14th in NBA, but 75% of 47.2 FPG — or 35.4 Fp — would tie with. Andrew Wiggins For 50th place in the NBA. He's still an impact player, but it is not as thrilling as waiting for a Morant/Booker-sized impact.

Leonard is valuable in daily transaction leagues because you can have other players on your team to replace him in the missing games. You may not be able to replace him on every day.

If you have a hectic schedule like Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays, Kawhi's 47 fantasy points might be replaced by a player who can give you 25 to 30 fantasy points. Although not ideal, it's possible to get closer to 88% Kawhi as opposed 75 %… or 41.5 FP/G.

This would place him 25th in league, right there with Fred VanVleetJust behind is Bradley Beal And just ahead Domantas Sabonis. These are exciting names and have a huge fantasy impact. Remember, Kawhi's absence could have cost your team many wins in a season when every win is important.

Is a VanVleet impact sufficient to bring your team back into the playoffs? You may have different mileage.

The bottom line is that if Kawhi Leonard was drafted on your fantasy basketball roster and you kept him, then you've already paid some equity. Now you can look forward to the potential rewards of having one the best players in NBA.

Keep in mind, however, that his per-game stats may be more elite than elite and he is likely to miss at least one of the next four games even assuming a 100% health. You also need to be aware of the possibility of re-injury.

My advice to him is to wait and see if he can reach full-Kawhi status in the near future. Enjoy it and talk about it with your league mates if and when he does.

But don't treat it as if you are trying to trade him. Instead, treat it as if you were talking trash. You can win a close matchup against a Kawhi big player to put your team on the top. Talk to your opponent like you're talking trash about how genius you were to hold onto him while he recovers from his injury.

Repeat the gesture every time he scores a 40-point goal or makes the winning shot that tops SportsCenter Top 10 Keep Kawhi's name up high in the most positive manner possible. Trade him as soon as possible, as long as you can quietly negotiate a deal that is worth 47.2 FP/G (rather than his 75% rate).

This is what I would do, you know? If I wasn't saying it publicly so that my 13 ESPN-employed War Room league colleagues could see it.

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