Hall of Famer Paul Pierce is taking issue with Kawhi Leonard being compared to LeBron James, saying that Leonard misses as much time as Anthony Davis.
Pierce offered his comments during a discussion on former teammate Kevin Garnett’s podcast and pointed to Leonard’s injury-plagued history and the double standard that exists.
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“We don’t hold Kawhi accountable enough because him being at the status that he is, we mention him in the same breath of LeBron, K.D. (Kevin Durant) when he’s at his best,” Pierce said. “But then how we talk about Anthony Davis not being available, we don’t put Kawhi in that group because think about his last four, five years. He’s missed about two seasons, always out, ain’t really put a lot of games together, but we never talk about that. So, I don’t know if it’s the way he’s injured or the way Anthony Davis is injured because he goes up and maybe it’s a leg or a finger.”
Even before joining the Clippers in 2019, Leonard had issues staying healthy. He hasn’t played more than 60 regular season games in a season since the 2016-17 season. During the 2017-18 campaign, he played in just nine games because of injuries, and he missed all of last season because of an ACL injury.
Load management, the controversial approach that’s used to try to keep Leonard healthy, is being used by his team in hopes that it will result in a long playoff run for Leonard and the Clippers.
However, that philosophy hasn’t delivered a great deal of success for the Clippers thus far. This season, Leonard has only seen action in two games for the 5-4 Clippers.
Davis has had his own issues staying on the court, especially during the previous two seasons. During the 2020-21 campaign, injuries limited him to 36 games and resulted in a quick playoff exit for the Lakers.
Last season, Davis was only able to play in 40 contests. His absence was a major reason why the Lakers failed to even reach the postseason.
When healthy, both players play pivotal roles on their teams. During the 2018-19 season, Leonard’s postseason performance helped the Toronto Raptors capture the NBA title, with Leonard winning the Finals MVP award.
During Davis’ first season with the Lakers in the 2019-20 campaign, the big man and James helped lead the Lakers to their first NBA championship in a decade. The Lakers were seemingly on course for another deep playoff run the following season when injuries sidelined Davis.
It’s possible that some of the added criticism directed at Davis is because of the Lakers’ legacy of titles. In contrast, the Clippers have yet to win a single title in the more than 50 years the franchise has been in existence.
For now, Davis is focused on simply trying the get the struggling Lakers back on track. Following Friday night’s loss to the Utah Jazz, the Lakers have a 2-6 record and face the torrid Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday afternoon.