LOS ANGELES (AP) No Kawhi Leonard means even more Paul George for the Los Angeles Clippers. With Leonard out while recovering from knee surgery, George becomes the primary scorer for a team looking to make a deeper run in the playoffs.
George is already one of the NBA’s elite scoring forwards and a talented defender. After Leonard got hurt in the playoffs last season, George showed what he could do in helping the Clippers to their first-ever Western Conference finals berth.
”He’s carried teams before. He’s a great player,” coach Tyronn Lue said. ”This year we need more from him, more leadership, and to continue to play the way he played last season.”
Lue has a deep roster to work with, including new additions Eric Bledsoe and Justise Winslow.
The biggest question hanging over the Clippers is when Leonard will return. Will he work his way back from surgery to repair a partially torn ACL before the end of the regular season? Or for the playoffs? Or remain out until next season?
Even he isn’t sure.
”That’s the challenge of it, just seeing how quickly I can get better and how much stronger I can get than what I was when I was healthy,” he said. ”When that available date comes, we’ll be ready for it.”
Meanwhile, Leonard plans on being around the team, saying he wants ”to make myself as relevant as possible.” That includes watching games, sitting in on coaches’ meetings and staying in his teammates’ ears.
After Leonard went down, the Clippers rallied from 0-2 deficits in their first two playoff series before losing to Phoenix in the conference finals, which they had their chances to win.
Lue enters his second season with the same expectation: to win the franchise’s first NBA title.
”In losing a guy like Kawhi, I know things seem like it’s not possible, but anything’s possible,” he said. ”Our guys have shown that last year.”
The Clippers visit Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors to open the season on Oct. 21.
Leonard said he…
Source : yahoo