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Clippings: Even with Paul George, LA still has some glaring weaknesses

On some nights, the Clippers look like championship contenders. On others, not so much.

San Antonio Spurs v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

When looking at the LA Clippers team of the 2010s, led by the big three of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan, consistency was not a strong suit. While that team could regularly beat elite teams, like the veteran Spurs in the playoffs, they still dropped a number of winnable games against easier competition, which planted seeds of doubt in the legitimacy of that Clipper team.

With the LA Clippers of the 2020s now taking form, history seems to be rhyming once again. Their most recent loss against the now-12th seeded Spurs, far removed from the days of Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, highlights this rhyme from the past. It’s hard to count on them consistently beating teams that are out of the playoff picture, even with Paul George. More than half of their 15 losses have been against teams with records below .500, and five of their wins decided by less than 10 points have been against those same teams.

There is not one single factor that can explain the Clippers’ inconsistent play and not-so-great record, but the double-digit loss to the Spurs highlighted a significant one—rebounding.

Since the acquisitions of Kawhi Leonard and George, it was well-known that the Clippers were lacking in terms of their bigs. Though many fans might be pleased with Ivica Zubac’s improvement, Serge Ibaka’s return, and Isaiah Hartenstein’s valuable minutes, the team as a whole still ranks 27th in offensive rebounds per game and 23rd in rebounds per game. Some might write those rankings off as a result of the small-ball lineups Ty Lue likes to play, with Nicolas Batum at center, but compare that to the Warriors, the team that popularized the modern small-ball lineup, who rank fourth in rebounds per game.

That’s just one factor that the Clippers might need to take a closer look at. All measurements point to their defense as being their saving grace, with the offense being the primary contributing factor to their not-so-stellar record.

With Paul George’s return, however, their may be good consequences to their play that might not have been so apparent during his absence. He surely will attract lots of defensive attention and double teams, but it’s up to the players themselves if they can capitalize on his presence.

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