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Clippings: Setting expectations for the 2021-22 season

The team’s prospects for next year remain unpredictable as training camp approaches.

2021 NBA Playoffs - Utah Jazz v LA Clippers Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images

With rosters nearly being finalized for most teams across the league, we can get a better sense of how the next season might play out. However, there are always teams whose projections are more complex than just looking at betting odds. This time, the Clippers are one of those teams, surrounded with questions as the 2021-22 season creeps closer.

This is not an uncommon view of the shorthanded team, with CBS noting that the outcomes of the Clippers could be largely dependent on health and consistency. This analysis opens up the possibility of a surprise finish, ending the season in the top half of the conference while posing a genuine threat to the title favorites. However, there have been some projections of the Clippers that place them as a play-in team, struggling to get past the threshold for playoff contention. Bleacher Report, for example, ranks the Clippers 18th in power rankings, below teams like the Pacers and Bulls.

Although the disparity in projections fails to bring us clarity, it does suggest that the Clippers’ ceiling remains high. And, of course, their floor is scarily low. There are lots of moving pieces that will undoubtedly impact the Clippers’ performance in the regular season and playoffs. Paul George, for one, will be tasked with leadership roles in all forms for possibly the entire season. And despite the disproportionate hate directed at George on social media, all real indicators point to a repeat of last season’s individual success.

2021 NBA Playoffs - Phoenix Suns v LA Clippers
Paul George’s play wasn’t enough to beat the Suns, but he lived up to his star status.
Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

That leaves much of our questions with the other moving pieces. Reggie Jackson and Nicolas Batum may be the most notable examples, needing to prove that their resurgent years in the 2020-21 season weren’t just flukes. Serge Ibaka’s presence (or absence) could make a dramatic difference, since his ability to stretch the floor will only add to the Clippers’ 3-point shooting. Eric Bledsoe will be asked to play on both sides of the floor, filling the defensive hole of Patrick Beverley’s departure and aiding Paul George on the offensive end.

There are too many determinants of the Clippers’ success in the 2021-22 season to address (don’t forget Kawhi), all of which contribute to the lack of predictability next year holds. However, there is one thing for certain: the Clippers can excel. They may not win a title, but they are positioned for success, in one way or another.

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