The LA Clippers More to Worry About Than Kawhi Leonard

Ty Lue hopes to fix the LA Clippers problems even without Kawhi Leonard

The Los Angeles Clippers (2-2) have long-term goals toward an NBA Championship at the end of this season. Their short-term goals, however, are flawed and have seen some serious issues. The Clippers have started the season with two close wins over the Los Angeles Lakers and the Sacramento Kings but have since lost to the Phoenix Suns and the Oklahoma City Thunder. They have already seen lineup changes, with Paul George missing the 108-94 road loss to the Thunder on Tuesday night with an illness. Marcus Morris was out for a personal reason. Finally, Kawhi Leonard has missed two games due to injury management. Their absences have been significant, but the Clippers have bigger problems with the absence of their star players.

The LA Clippers Have Bigger Problems Than Kawhi Leonard Being Out

LA Clippers Problems: Minimal Role Player Production

The Clippers have one of the deepest rosters in the NBA this season as they possess 11 players that can easily start for other teams. Despite the stacked team and the full off-season of preparations, the offense, and the effort has looked poor. The Clippers struggled in the first three games of the season, but it was in the road game versus the Thunder was where Los Angeles was exposed the most.

Without George, Leonard, and Morris, the Clippers only scored 94 total points, with only 43 points coming from the starting unit. Los Angeles as a team made 42.2% in field goals but 32.3% from the three-point line. The most appalling stat was the carelessness of the ball as the Clippers turned the ball over 19 times. The bench of the Clippers combined for 51 points, with 15 from Luke Kennard, 12 from John Wall, and 10 from Robert Covington.

Reggie Jackson had one of his worst performances of the season by shooting 4-17 from field goal (1-6 from three-point range) for 9 points and 3 turnovers. Norman Powell, who was supposed to be the third-leading scorer by many analysts for the Clippers, is having a terrible shooting slump in the first four games. Powell shot 10-of-37 from field goals, 1-of-12 from the three-point line, turned the ball over 13 times, and scored 28 points. He is averaging 7 points per game and has not surpassed 9 points this season. Currently, the Clippers rank 30th (last) in points per game (100.8), tied for 28th in turnovers per game (16.8), and 24th in three-point shooting percentage (32.5%).

Ty Lue Hoping Team Excels

Head coach Ty Lue has shown he can get the most out of his team of stars and key role players. There are always a set of players playing on a hot streak and playing at an all-star level. The players lack effort, urgency, and rhythm within four games of the season. These are attributes that come from the coaching staff. It way-too-soon to put coach Lue in a warm seat, especially only four games into the 2022-2023 NBA season. There are certain aspects that should be concerned about after a series of up-and-down events in the first week of the season.

Against the Thunder, the Clippers allowed guards Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Tre Mann to combine for 58 points. The Clippers’ problem with defending against more electric guards last season continues into this season. Players are disorganized and unable to adapt to the plays, especially with plays involving Alexander, who accounted for 33 points and 8 assists.

On games where George, Leonard, and Morris are out, there needs to be a solidified leader on the court to lead a team. It is too early for fans or the team to panic, but there will have to be some adjustments if the Clippers continue to experience problems. Paul George needs help on the offensive end of the court. Only Ivica Zubac and John Wall have been consistent through four games.