The Toronto Raptors handled Kawhi Leonard with care this season, and the team’s cautious approach paid off in a big way. Leonard famously sat out most of his final year with the San Antonio Spurs with a pesky quadriceps injury, and during the 2018-19 regular season campaign, the All-Star forward only played in 60 games.
The practice became notoriously known as “load management,” and while plenty of jokes were made at its expense, the proof is in the pudding. Resting Leonard during the regular season helped him stay fresh entering the playoffs, and now, the Raptors are playing for the first championship in franchise history.
It might seem like a stretch to credit the practice for Leonard’s current run, which has vaulted him into the stratosphere of the best players in the world, but the man himself told Rachel Nichols of ESPN that load management played a major role in getting to this point.
“It was big,” Leonard said. “When it got bad, we ended up taking, you know, four or five games off. And, you know, if we didn’t do that, I wouldn’t be here right now, for sure. I’m already favoring it, and … yeah, the way we laid out the schedule was good. I’m happy.”
When asked again if load management really did play that big of a role, Leonard told Nichols, “I don’t think I’d be playing right now if I would’ve tried to go through that season [without it].” For all the scorn it drew during the league’s perpetual attempt to figure out how to make players participate in as many games as possible, all that matters is that it worked out in the end.