The 2022-23 NBA campaign is about 25 percent finished. Among the surprises and disappointments around the league, the LA Clippers fall in the middle. As it currently stands, the Clippers hold the eighth seed at 11-9. It’s not the worst outcome, considering they are only two games behind first. However, some thought that the Clippers should be in a better spot—especially given their strength of schedule. With all the injuries, guys in and out, and roles being established, grading the Clippers’ season will require more caveats than not.
Grading the Clippers’ Season So Far
Being only two games behind the top seed is a win for most teams. But some could argue that the Clippers should be in first already. Their strength of schedule was favorable to start the season and will not be as friendly coming up. So far, the Clippers’ defense is keeping them afloat. They currently rank second in the league in that regard. However, they boast the fourth-worst offense in the league. The defense is a bright spot, though their opponents have not been the best. The offense is a concern still. But they can only do so much with role players filling in the roles of their absent stars.
The superstar duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were bit by the injury bug again. Leonard started the season with a minutes’ restriction but eventually had to miss 25 days due to knee stiffness. He eventually returned only to turn an ankle while landing on Amir Coffey’s foot. George exited their bout against the San Antonio Spurs with knee soreness then was later diagnosed with a hamstring tendon injury. Given their stars’ statuses, it is almost commendable that they are still above .500.
LA Clippers Standout Performers
There are some standout performances. Marcus Morris is having his best season as a Clipper. He is moving with more agility and shooting efficiently from deep and midrange. Ivica Zubac Is a dominant force defending the rim and rebounding the basketball. He is currently playing a career-high 30 minutes per game. Consequently, he is seeing career numbers in rebounds and blocks.
John Wall shows spurts of being a highly effective player. His pace-pushing increases the team’s tempo and gives them a different attack. He is struggling to shoot efficiently from deep and the free throw line, but he is still coming off a year of no basketball and a minutes’ restriction. He also has turned the ball over a bit but the good narrowly outweighs the bad.
It’s tough to get a strong feel for this team considering all that’s going on. Obviously, the health of Leonard and George is throwing a wrench in things. Leonard coming off the bench definitely affected rotations. The only bright side of the injury situation is being able to see players contribute. Terance Mann and Amir Coffey are giving the team a solid spark of youth and athleticism. Norman Powell is also rebounding from a slow start after being designated as the team’s sixth man. But it is frustrating to not see everyone together and gel. Additionally, the backup center spot continues to be a problem.
Injuries are bound to happen with any team. And we must hope that they can hold the fort until the stars return. The defense being elite is a major positive. Also, role players starting to find their groove gives some confidence for this team going forward. But the lack of sample size with the majority of the rotation doesn’t paint a clear picture of what to expect from this team. However, being a couple of games behind the top spot is commendable given all that’s happened. Even if the opponents are not all great.