It’d been practically 16 months since LA Clippers ahead Kawhi Leonard performed an NBA sport earlier than Tuesday evening’s preseason win over the Portland Path Blazers. Leonard completed with 11 factors in 16 minutes however, extra importantly, seemed to be totally recovered from the torn ACL he suffered in sport 4 of the 2021 Western Convention semifinals in opposition to the Utah Jazz.
Final season the Clippers hung round by way of the primary two months of the season with Paul George main the best way till he went down with an damage in late December. Paul missed over three months earlier than returning on the finish of March, however the injury had been executed. The Clippers fell from the highest 5 when George was wholesome down into the play-in event, the place they have been eradicated, lacking the playoffs only one 12 months faraway from the franchise’s first WCF look.
That’s all behind them now, as a result of Leonard and George are again and wholesome, making the Clippers a favourite within the West this 12 months. Stacked up in opposition to the remainder of the West, this LA crew has the instruments and depth to make a run on the Warriors’ western convention crown.
After all, every part relies on Leonard’s capability to keep on the ground and be out there within the postseason. Based mostly on that notion, the Clippers have greater than sufficient depth to compete with the very best groups within the NBA. Over the past two years, head coach Tyronn Lue has proved that he’s greater than a product of LeBron James. Lue can coach and has been labeled by many as the very best coach within the league at adjusting.
LA ought to be capable to go deep into their lineup, with 10 gamers receiving vital minutes on a given evening. Having that depth also needs to assist protect Leonard and George by way of the lengthy 82-game season.
Within the backcourt alone, minutes will probably be tight with a six-guard rotation. Moreover George, the Clippers have Reggie Jackson, Norman Powell, Terance Mann, Luke Kennard, and the latest addition John Wall as gamers that may battle for minutes on the ground. Leonard, Ivica Zubac, Marcus Morris Sr., Nicolas Batum, and Robert Covington comprise the Clippers’ frontcourt and may all see vital minutes, relying on the matchup. And lots of of those gamers can play a number of positions.
The street to profitable within the NBA is tough, however these groups with depth are often among the many final left standing in the long run. Certain, this league is about stars, however these stars additionally must be surrounded by items that match their sport and what they do finest on the courtroom. The Clippers nonetheless don’t have a real start line guard, as Jackson is extra of a combo guard, however as we’ve seen previously, he can definitely get the job executed in huge moments when known as upon.
However once more, none of this issues with out Leonard on the courtroom when it issues. Depth is implausible — we simply noticed the Warriors and Celtics meet within the Finals possessing two of the deeper rosters within the affiliation. Hopefully, there received’t be a necessity for an excessive amount of load administration in Clipperland this 12 months, and Leonard can play not less than 65 video games. That’s a feat he hasn’t achieved since he was in San Antonio.
Once more, the principle purpose is to maintain Leonard and PG-13 wholesome sufficient to make a run within the playoffs. That is what the Clippers needs to be targeted on heading into the 2022-23 marketing campaign. You get to play lots of unhealthy groups by way of the course of an NBA season. These Clippers are adequate to beat most groups on this league. Towards the highest 4 or 5 groups within the NBA is the place stars and depth will probably be most essential. If the Clippers can get by way of the season primarily wholesome, there isn’t any cause they’ll’t be proper again within the WCF.