Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, John Wall, Reggie Jackson, Norman Powell, Marcus Morris Sr. — ahead of the 2022-23 NBA season, the Los Angeles Clippers looked unstoppable.
But as the clichéd saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover.
Despite having two superstars and arguably the deepest roster in the league, they weren’t devoid of flaws — if anything, it was clear that they were full of deficiencies.
Kawhi Leonard could not stay healthy; Paul George went through his early shooting struggles; Norman Powell and Reggie Jackson did not produce at the level we expected them.
And after dropping four games in a row, the Clippers’ struggles were indisputable. Will Kawhi ever return to his MVP form? Could they live up to their expectations?
But last night they showed a glimpse of who they can be: an unstoppable, cohesive group of talented hoopers charging at one goal. The NBA Championship.
George got the team going with a smooth pull-up jumper just a step inside the three-point arc. He would not cool down since as he posted an impressive 18 points just in the first quarter.
10 of those first quarter points came off a Wall dime. Whether it’d be a quick feed to the wing for a catch-and-shoot three or an alley oop for an exhilarating jam, the veteran point guard knew exactly how to feed George and his teammates.
Wall finished the game with 15 assists — the last Clippers to log 15+ assists was none other than Chris Paul. He felt liked he had more left in him, though: “I was trying to get 20, to be honest,” he noted after the game. Wall’s play-making prowess and pace could be the long-waited answer to the organization’s long-standing question mark regarding play-making.
There’s no other player quite like the veteran speedster. He easily beats defenders down the floor and, with a flick of a wrist, somehow launches the ball straight into the hands of an open teammate.
Sequence so nice, gotta show it twice. pic.twitter.com/Siqsaorexb— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) November 20, 2022
And Wall’s greatest asset — his artful playmaking and court vision — works particularly well for the Clippers, a star-stacked, talent-loaded team.
The 213 has shooters all around to capitalize off Wall’s finds; five Clippers are shooting over 35 percent from long range this season. Near the rim, the likes of Leonard, George, Terance Mann and Ivica Zubac are players that can climb up the ladder to turn a beautiful pass into two points.
And the team’s depth was on full display last night against the San Antonion Spurs: the team drowned the spurs with a 40-point first quarter and six players finished in double digits.
Of those six, the scoring outputs of Jackson and Powell are the most noteworthy. The starting point guard logged 20 points on 8-for-11 shooting. Powell finished with a game-high of 26 points off the bench, draining 10-for-16 shot attempts.
The two guards have proven, in multiple occasions, that they can be a lethal scoring threat for a contending team. But have not yet been quite as dominant as they once were. But if they can continue to put up these numbers, the Clippers will look even more dangerous.
Tyronn Lue noted in the post-game interview, “Today was the best game we’ve played all season. This is the blueprint of how we need to play.”
17 games into the season, things are starting to click for Lue and the Clippers.