LA Clippers: How Tyronn Lue is setting Paul George free

LA Clippers Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports
LA Clippers Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports /
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LA Clippers
LA Clippers Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports /

Let’s be honest. Paul George struggled in his first season with the LA Clippers. Head coach Ty Lue is building a system for the superstar.

A perfect storm of shoulder surgeries, chemistry issues and a now-infamous moment with the side of the backboard perhaps meant that no one NBA player was ridiculed just as viscerally as the six-time All-Star Paul George was in his first year with the LA Clippers.

An underwhelming year for George and his teammates precipitated a summer of introspection and soul-searching for Lawrence Frank, whose front-office ultimately decided to part ways with Doc Rivers and Montrezl Harrell – two Clipper mainstays – in favour of a refreshed coaching staff and a retooled playing personnel.

Central to the new direction were the introductions of Serge Ibaka, Nicolas Batum and Luke Kennard – three experienced NBA players that arrived in Southern California to provide the shot-making and floor spacing that makes the game easy for an offensive weapon of George’s calibre.

And after only nine games in the new season, three improvements made by the LA Clippers are already proving their value next to a revitalized George.

 LA Clippers’ Benefit to Paul George #1: An Empowering Offensive Playbook

George is completing 48.9 percent from the field and 47.8 percent from beyond the arc (both career-highs) for 24.6 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.8 assists (another career-high) this season.

George has been the predominant beneficiary of a reoriented basketball philosophy preferring spacing rather than a consistent interior presence.

Serge Ibaka and Nicolas Batum’s insertion to the Clippers’ starting unit has empowered George to diversify his club’s offensive opportunities, where an increase in his touches from the Doc Rivers era has encouraged the Los Angeles native to widen his playmaking portfolio.

The newfound emphasis on stretching the floor has been the pillar for the continued offensive efficiency under Tyronn Lue, where the Clippers currently rank as the hottest three-point shooting team in the Western Conference (40.8 percent from deep) while registering a top-four offensive rating (114.2 points per 100 possessions).

Key to the side’s prosperity in this domain has been the high-percentage opportunities gifted to the likes of Patrick Beverley (48.7 three-point percentage), Batum (45.7 percent) and Kennard (44.8 percent), who are relentlessly punishing opposition defenses lured into the gravity of either George or Kawhi Leonard.

Molding George into a facilitator has forged another dimension of prosperity for the LA Clippers and issues Tyronn Lue with another offensive wrinkle come a much-anticipated postseason.