’22-’23 LA Clippers Season Recap


With 31 seconds left in the 3rd quarter of Game 5 in Phoenix, Devin Booker drove to the lane and shot a driving floater with just enough finesse on it that it swished into the basket perfectly, extending the Suns lead to 21. This was his 25th point of the quarter of what would ultimately be 47 points on the night in a ridiculously efficient 19/27 (70%) shooting performance. This was also the exact moment that I turned off my TV in a mixture of pure frustration and utter sadness, accepting our team’s fate and looking up the cheapest ticket to Cancun…

All jokes aside, it was tough to watch the Clips in the playoffs. Not necessarily because they lost, but because they genuinely could have won. Unfortunately, this is the identity of the Kawhi/PG era with the Clips. The biggest “What If?” team in the league over the past few years. Their trajectory not hindered by their play, but rather their lack of durability and ability to stay healthy. In my biased opinion, this might be one of the cruelest misfortunes to happen to the team you support because you know that you have the talent to not only compete, but win, but unfortunately, the team just cannot stay on the floor. Now that my rant is over, let’s take a look back at this roller coaster of the season.

The LA Clippers finished the ’22-’23 season with a 44-38 record, which was good enough for 5th in the Western Conference. This goes in the books as the 12 consecutive season with a winning record, the longest active streak in the NBA today and 7th longest streak of all time. This is a major testament to the job that Ballmer has done since taking control of the Clips after the disastrous Sterling era and the lackluster era before that. The main trend that I noticed more this year than previous years is how strong of an influence that Paul George and Kawhi have on the way the roster is constructed. In the offseason, PG advocated for his friend John Wall, once of the best guards in the league before consecutive injuries that took him away from the court for years.


The first mistake we made this year was signing John Wall to the MLE rather than re-signing Isaiah Hartenstein, an extremely underrated center with excellent vision and an unguardable trademark push-shot 3 feet from the rim. Because of our decision to give in to PG and the media’s pressure of signing a “true point-guard”, we lost center depth and were forced to sign Moses Brown as our backup, which is just inexcusable. While the idea of a guard that pushes the ball up the court and can facilitate for 213 is a good idea in theory, the execution was simply not there in the slightest. Wall suffered from an abdominal injury halfway through the season causing his play on the court to seriously decline, racking up turnover after turnover and many missed 3’s.

As the year progressed, Kawhi started to see the floor more and more, coming back from his ACL recovery from the ’21 playoffs. He started off a bit rusty, but came into his true form way faster than I could have imagined. In 52 games and a very slow start, Kawhi still averaged 24 ppg, 4 apg, and 6.5 rpg on 51/42/87 shooting. Now… for the other half of 213… Paul George. PG had a very interesting year. He finished the year averaging just under 24 ppg, 6 rpg, and 5 apg on 46/37/87 shooting. While these stats are not bad by any means, Paul George began to express some very odd tendencies that are not characteristic of an All-Star and top 15 caliber player in the NBA. Both on the court and off the court, PG shied away from the spotlight. In interviews he’d mention that he “doesn’t think he’s the 1 guy.” This sparked worry from Clipper fans who want him to step up to the plate, especially when he just signed a 4 year $176 million deal and the Clippers traded away their entire future and Shai Gilgeous Alexander for him a few years ago. Overall though, PG had a great year and was really hitting his stride until the Clipper curse came back to haunt us. In a game that he dunked a ridiculous reverse 360 in traffic, PG left the game with a leg injury and was sidelined for the remainder of the season (4 weeks before the playoffs started). He worked extremely hard to get back onto the court, but wasn’t able to make it due to the Clippers getting eliminated by the Suns.

When the trade deadline hit, the Clippers made multiple moves. They traded away Luke Kennard, John Wall, and fan favorite Reggie Jackson for Mason Plumlee, Bones Hyland, and Eric Gordon. These additions proved to be great for the team. Two weeks after the deadline and after multiple endorsements from Paul George, the Clips signed polarizing guard Russell Westbrook. At first, I was very anti-Westbrook, but his undeniable love for the game and his teammates, his intensity and passion, as well as his incredible heart on and off the court soon won me over. It took a few games to find their identity, but as the season came to an end, they started to click and develop some momentum.

The biggest problem and one of the most controversial aspects of the Clippers season was the fascinating dynamic between Tyronn Lue and the power forward situation, specifically Marcus Morris. While Ty Lue has made some incredible adjustments for the Clips in the playoffs that have led to Clipper playoff wins, he has a very odd tendency to stick with his guys, even if it means running them into the ground. This season, he did just that. Lue began to making coaching decisions that puzzled Clipper fans, running 3-guard rotations that would get dominated on the glass as well as never playing Robert Covington, a member of the Clippers roster that fans have been dying for Lue to take out of the vault due to this 3 and D utility. Instead, Lue would stick with Marcus Morris despite the fact that Morris was getting cooked defensively and appeared to have lost his step offensively. It ended up costing the Clippers multiple games throughout the season as fans have been advocated for a Morris departure in recent weeks.

When the playoffs began, the Clippers were without Paul George playing against the formidable Phoenix Suns who had a starting lineup of Devin Booker, CP3, Kevin Durant, and Deandre Ayton. Insert Kawhi Leonard. In game 1, Leonard put up a masterclass performance, getting to his spots at ease, finishing with 38 points as the Clips stole Game 1 in Phoenix capped off by a game-winning block by Russell Westbrook on Devin Booker. Morale was at an all time. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be a true Clipper season if every player we cared about went down with injury. In Game 2, Kawhi put up another impressive performance but was injured again and missed the rest of the series. For the remainder of the first round matchup, Russell Westbrook turned back the clock and put the entire team on his back with the help of Norman Powell. Russ averaged 24 ppg, 8 rpg, and 7 apg on 41/36/88 shooting. It was incredible to watch, but KD and Book sadly did not miss a single shot and put the shorthanded Clips away in 5.

Overall, it was a rollercoaster of a year. Here are my final thoughts: As a team, we really need to figure out our power forward position. We need to get younger and more athletic. And most of all, we need to be HEALTHY. Terance Mann and Zubac have been phenomenal. Kawhi has been elite, and Paul George needs to step up to the plate a bit, but he’s been great as well. With the NBA draft having just concluded, the Clippers picked Kobe Brown and Jordan Miller, two older forwards who should be ready to compete. On top of this, there have been many trade rumors regarding Paul George, especially surrounding the Blazers with their #3 pick Scoot Henderson and Anfernee Simons. I’m not sure if anything will come out of this, but it is certainly something to monitor in the coming weeks as free agency begins. The ’22-’23 season has officially been wrapped up. Here’s to health in the new year and smart front office decisions in the next coming weeks. Go Clips.

~Michael Bannerman

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