The Los Angeles Clippers had a roller coaster 2022, with Kawhi Leonard sitting most of it out with injury before returning recently, the team overcoming a series of setbacks to reach the play-in tournament before losing to the New Orleans Pelicans and some big moves made both in and out.
After a mixed start to this season, they currently sit as the sixth seed with a 21-18 record, four games back from the conference-leading Denver Nuggets. Can they finally get healthy and go on a run with the new year now upon us?
Writer Josh Sexton and ‘Courtside’ podcast hosts Jon Lee and Jack Coghlan discuss...
The obvious answer would be to see this team win a Championship, but as more time passes, I just don’t think the Clippers look like they’re capable of that. I watched the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks on Christmas Day, with neither at full health, might I add, and both look like they’d be head and shoulders above Ty Lue’s squad over a seven-game series.
So failing that, I’d really like to see the team put together a run of fully-healthy wins in the second half of the season that secures their home advantage. It feels like the franchise as a whole has all but decided they don’t care about seeding, because they believe they can beat anybody in the West through seven games, but I’m not as confident and think home advantage could be the difference between this squad securing another Conference Final spot or not.
This team needs to take the next step at some point, and the more time that passes, the smaller that window gets.
The Clippers on paper have a great roster, but the combinations aren’t exactly ideal for their long-term goal of a championship. When the team was assembled, they were nicknamed ‘Wingstop’ by the fanbase, only for said lineups to be seldom used.
In the preseason, we saw a brief lineup of Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Marcus Morris, Nicolas Batum, and Robert Covington. That lineup wreaked havoc as their length and switchability blew up the opposing offense and forced isolations.
On offense, they needed work. But the playmaking of Leonard and George paired with the shotmaking of Morris and the connectivity of Batum and Covington make for a championship recipe. Terance Mann or Norman Powell can be slotted in as well to add pace and rim pressure.
Whether it be Ty Lue concealing his best hand until late in the season or even the postseason, it doesn’t seem as if we will see this lineup soon. Especially if injuries continue to show up. I want to see more wing-heavy lineups in lieu of guards. That is what this team’s identity is built on, so they might as well embrace it.
As expected, T Lue responded to multiple rotation inquiries. Here's a clip of them, and here's a story on how we got to this point.— Law Murray (@LawMurrayTheNU) January 4, 2023
Sharpest Lue quote: "It's on me... I know what I'm doing. But I need to see more, from our whole team, and then kind of assess it from there." https://t.co/bymmzC8WcJ pic.twitter.com/VoO6XbnOkf
I’d mainly like to see the Clippers play a solid stretch of games with both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George healthy in 2023. Both have missed their fair share of games which has made it very difficult for the team, as the game plan shifts when one of the stars is out.
Another goal for this squad is to not get so comfortable with going down big early in the game and relying on a massive comeback to win the game. As good as the team is at making comebacks, it isn’t something that will work deep in the playoffs against the top teams.
The team also needs to limit the number of scoring droughts they have in games. That’s been another theme throughout the year because the Clippers rely heavily on jump shots, and again it could definitely cost us some games against the best of the best in the postseason.
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