As the Detroit Pistons prepare to face the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night, they will have to account for another opponent in battle. Kawhi Leonard is set to return to action against the Pistons after missing about a month due to a fractured hand.
In Leonard’s absence, the Spurs won eight out of their 14 games, which mostly took place on the road. Before the injury, San Antonio was an outstanding 32-9 with Leonard in the lineup.
Leonard still ranks in the Spurs’ top four scoring bracket among his peers despite the time off, but offense is not the only reason his services will be much obliged. Leonard is known to be the Spurs’ defensive stopper, usually guarding the opponent’s best offensive scoring threat. His coming out party was a grueling seven-game NBA Finals series in which he guarded Finals MVP-to-be LeBron James.
The Spurs currently sit in the 6th spot in the opponent points per game allowed category and could use Leonard’s active hands and length to cause turnovers for easy transition baskets. Of course, the process of returning will not happen in one game and Gregg Popovich understands this very well and will probably not play Leonard more than 20 minutes against the lesser Pistons.
On “Kawhi Leonard bobblehead night” at the AT&T Center, fans will be given a mini-replica of the third year man out of San Diego State University and enjoy the long-awaited play of the Spurs’ youthful future. Leonard’s return will mark another step closer to a full deck moving toward the playoffs.