The LA Clippers haven’t had it all bad this year.
The team has definitely had their share of good moments this season, but one constant has been disappointing the fan base as well.
It’s injuries. The team still has their franchise player in Kawhi Leonard out with his partially torn ACL, and they also still haven’t been able to play Jason Preston just yet, who is still recovering from his foot surgery.
The LA Clippers may not turn out to be true championship contenders if they continue to struggle with injuries.
The LA Clippers have had many injuries this year. Paul George, Nicolas Batum, Serge Ibaka, and Keon Johnson have all been forced to miss substantial time this season. That’s of course tough to deal with, because it makes it very difficult to establish consistent chemistry amongst the team when new faces are popping in and out of lineup combinations.
The Clippers haven’t been without these players the whole time, however. As for Leonard and Preston, though, we of course HAVE been without them since Game 1.
It’s easy to wonder how good of a team the Clippers would be if Leonard was back in action. They would be one of the top contenders in the West; in the top three with Phoenix and Golden State. They perhaps could be even better, because Kawhi is a better player than anyone on the Suns AND the Warriors.
Of course, it’s close between he and Steph Curry, but when the two met in the Finals, Kawhi beat him with a lesser supporting cast. I’m not discounting the fact that Steph has more rings and two MVPs. I am, however, pointing out that Kawhi beat Steph when he had his last chance, and Steph hasn’t been to the playoffs since.
Of course, he will this year, but since then, Kawhi went to the Western Conference Semis in 2020 while Curry and his squad had the worst record in basketball. Kawhi also of course was the best player on the Clippers again in 2021 when they made the Western Conference Finals, and Curry missed the postseason entirely yet again.
Kawhi didn’t get to finish the Western Conference Semis that year, but he was still the best player on that team, a First-Team All-NBA selection, an All-Defensive Team selection, played outstanding in the postseason when healthy, and almost shot 50/40/90 during the year. He was far better than Curry. Klaw has also won two NBA Finals MVPs to Curry’s zero.
I’d like to see what Kawhi will be like when he comes back this year before I crown someone else as the new best player in the Western Conference. And as long as the Clippers have that best player in the conference, they’re absolutely in the conversation to win it. Then, given Leonard’s great history in the Finals, the Clips can’t be counted out with him on the roster in that stage either.
The biggest disappointment of this season so far has been him not getting the chance to prove just how good he is. We hoped he’d be back after six months, as that was likely to be the earliest he could be out for. If he can make it back and be 100% for the postseason, however, then the Clippers will be a problem in this league.