It’d been practically 16 months since LA Clippers ahead Kawhi Leonard performed an NBA recreation earlier than Tuesday night time’s preseason win over the Portland Path Blazers. Leonard completed with 11 factors in 16 minutes however, extra importantly, totally recovered from the torn ACL he suffered in recreation 4 of the 2021 Western Convention semifinals towards the Utah Jazz.
Final season the Clippers hung round by means of the primary two months of the season with Paul George main the best way till he went down with an harm in late December. Paul missed over three months earlier than returning on the finish of March, however the injury had been accomplished. The Clippers fell from the highest 5 when George was wholesome down into the play-in event, the place they had 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 towards the remainder of the West, this LA staff has the instruments and depth to make a run on the Warriors’ western convention crown.
In fact, all the things is based on Leonard’s skill to keep on the ground and be obtainable within the postseason. Primarily based on that notion, the Clippers have greater than sufficient depth to compete with the very best groups within the NBA. During the last 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 should be able to go deep into their lineup, with 10 players receiving significant minutes on a given night. Having that depth should also help preserve Leonard and George through the long 82-game season.
In the backcourt alone, minutes will be tight with a six-guard rotation. Besides George, the Clippers have Reggie Jackson, Norman Powell, Terance Mann, Luke Kennard, and the newest 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 will all see important minutes, relying on the matchup. And lots of of those gamers can play a number of positions.
The highway to successful within the NBA is tough, however these groups with depth are often among the many final left standing in the long run. Positive, this league is about stars, however these stars additionally should be surrounded by items that match their recreation and what they do greatest on the court docket. The Clippers nonetheless don’t have a real place to begin guard, as Jackson is extra of a combo guard, however as we’ve seen previously, he can definitely get the job accomplished in large moments when referred to as upon.
However once more, none of this issues with out Leonard on the court docket 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 a minimum of 65 video games. That’s a feat he hasn’t completed since he was in San Antonio.
Once more, the primary objective is to maintain Leonard and PG-13 wholesome sufficient to make a run within the playoffs. That is what the Clippers must be targeted on heading into the 2022-23 marketing campaign. You get to play numerous dangerous groups by means of the course of an NBA season. These Clippers are adequate to beat most groups on this league. In opposition to the highest 4 or 5 groups within the NBA is the place stars and depth shall be most vital. If the Clippers can get by means of the season primarily wholesome, there isn’t any motive they will’t be proper again within the WCF.