One Step Forward, Two Steps Back: The ’22 LA Clippers… So Far
It’s been a turbulent few weeks for the LA Clippers with highs that were high and lows that were inexplicably low. From buzzer beating game-winners and career-nights from our guys to blow-out losses and a seemingly endless amount of scoring droughts, we have experienced it all. In a matchup against the Indiana Pacers and a talented defensive center in Myles Turner, who the Clippers were reportedly interested in acquiring, Ivica Zubac put up 31 points, 29 rebounds, and 3 blocks. The only other person in the history of the NBA to post a stat line better? Kareem Abdul Jabbar. A week or so later, Kawhi returned again and hit his patented lethal mid-range jumper to defeat the Hornets at the buzzer. While these moments are relished by Clippers fan, they have been the only bright spots as of recent in a fairly mediocre season so far.
At 15-13, the Clippers are hovering around that play-in spot, but in retrospect, they should be happy to be there when looking at how they have played as a team. The factor that’s causing such disappointing play? Injuries. What else would it be Clippers fans? It feels like injuries are always looming on this talented squad. Clips enthusiast Joey Linn pointed out just how brutal these setbacks have been and after taking a second to process it, it’s quite brutal.
There’s an old saying in basketball and all of sports that says, “The best ability is availability.” That mantra could not be any more true for the Clips. The Clippers have the tools to be successful, but when your entire squad takes turns on who’s getting hurt, it makes it quite difficult to create continuity and establish elite chemistry. Take a look at the Celtics for example. Led by two-way wings in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, the C’s are built very similarly to the Clips, but they haven’t been plagued with injuries and it shows. The chemistry they have created shows as they have the best record in the entire league. The Clips have the exact same blueprint, but it makes it really difficult to find success when half of your roster is either out or on minutes restriction.
Over a quarter way through the season, we can now make some conclusions about the individuals on the squad. I really want to talk about is John Wall. Wall’s play has fluctuated greatly throughout the course of the this year. My main takeaway? When he drives the rim and pushes the ball in transition, he’s elite. When he settle’s for pull-up 3-pointers and contested mid-ranges, he’s not. It’s that simple. Another player I want to talk about is Robert Covington. A player who can be a key-piece of a championship caliber team, Roco has received multiple DNP’s as of recent. This is very concerning for his tenure as a Clipper and could be a sign that the Clips are shopping him for trades.
Despite dropping some very winnable games, the Clippers are not out. They are very much, in fact, in. With the stars finally healthy for game, the Clippers 20-pieced the Boston Celtics, the #1 team in the league. Thanks to a Kawhi masterclass (25 points on 10-12 shooting) and 26 from PG, the Clips looked like their old selves. That’s the thing that I keep stressing because it’s true. The pieces are there. We’ve got the fire power. Just please STAY HEALTHY!
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