Clippers Kawhi Leonard Hits 65+ Games Played For First Time Since 2016-17

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The NBA took some serious measures to combat load management this season. A minimum-game threshold was put in place for players to qualify for post-season awards and honors, which has been the subject of some controversy this year. But it seems to have had its positive effects, as one of the biggest load management culprits, Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard, has played in more games this year than in any of the past 7 seasons.

Kawhi Leonard Has Played 65+ Games For First Time With Clippers

The rules were simple for players to follow: if they wanted to be eligible for awards like MVP or DPOY, or to be named to one of the All-NBA teams, they would have to play in 65 of their team’s 82 games. The rules shift came to the forefront when Joel Embiid, who was on a fast-track to being named the most valuable player, seemingly forced himself to play through injury in order to meet the minimum threshold. His knee hasn’t allowed him to play since.

But for guys like Leonard, the rules have worked wonders. For the first time in his five years with the Clippers, the former Defensive Player of the Year and MVP candidate has played more than 57 games in a single campaign. In fact, of a possible 308 games in his first four years, Leonard played in just 161 of them. (He missed the entire 2021-22 season with an ACL injury).

Leonard’s Career High Is 74 Games Played

When Leonard takes the court for the Clippers game against the Magic on Friday, it will be his 67th appearance in 73 chances. Should he remain healthy and in the lineup for a majority of the remaining games on Los Angeles’ schedule, he will wind up playing the most games he ever has in a single season.

74 is his career high for games played in one year, which was set back in 2016-17. That season, Leonard finished 3rd in both MVP and Defensive Player of the Year voting. He had won the previous two DPOY awards.

The Clippers have had a rough go over the past couple of weeks, losing 6 of their last 10 games and allowing the teams behind them to close the gap a bit. Entering Friday’s action around the league, LA was just a half-game up on the New Orleans Pelicans who are currently in 5th place.

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