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Clippings: Paul George is stepping up in the locker room

Palmdale’s finest is being more vocal in practices as a leader.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Atlanta Hawks Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The official start of Clippers preseason on Monday showcased some returning veteran action, but mostly highlighted the youth. Amir Coffey led the team in minutes played with 31, while Terance Mann, Luke Kennard, and Justise Winslow chipped in 30, 28, and 25 minutes, respectively. Rookie Brandon Boston Jr. and training camp invitees Moses Wright, Isaiah Hartenstein, and Harry Giles III (while vying for the last roster spot) also contributed to the close victory over the Nuggets.

With the tough schedule staring the Clippers down this season, the fresh legs of the youth seems to be a point of emphasis through the offseason and training camp.

At the end of the day, however, one undeniable truth remains: if the Clippers want to win the playoffs, they’ll need their vets.

And with Paul George and Nicolas Batum being cleared to play yesterday night, Ty Lue seems to be warming up his vets for the season as well. Kawhi Leonard is sidelined for a good portion of the season with an ACL injury and Patrick Beverley no longer on the team, so leadership this season will likely rest on these two vets’ shoulders, as well as Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris Sr. Batum has already been lauded by the youth for his mentorship. Morris has already notably been a vocal voice in the locker room. And now, George is getting recognized by his teammates for his increased assumption of responsibility as well.

“In training camp, there were a few situations when we didn’t start out practices like we were supposed to, our energy was not there, we was not locked in where we were supposed to be for training camp,” Ivica Zubac said before shootaround Wednesday, “and [PG] stopped a drill a few times and stopped whatever we were doing to let us know, ‘We can’t be doing this, we gotta pick it up, we just gotta get locked in and focused’. And he did that a few times, and that’s something he wouldn’t do before as much, and you can really tell he took that role seriously and he’s doing it.”

This season won’t be George’s first time playing the lead man, having led the Pacers to two conference finals appearances in the 2013 and 2014 playoffs and the Clippers to their first last season. This year, with their best player injured and the team vying for a playoff spot, the Clippers will look to George to work his magic again, both on the court and off. If the Clips are to exceed expectations and challenge the best in the west, it will undoubtedly be due to the contributions of this man. Buckle up, Clippers fans, we just might be about to witness an MVPG season.

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