The bannerless rafters aren’t the reason why the LA Clippers have garnered so much attention over the past few years. Neither are the theatrics of Steve Ballmer on the sidelines, their current owner. Instead, fans pay their hard-earned money and travel down the hall to the less glamorous side of Crypto.com Arena to see the stars that the Clippers currently have housed on their roster.
With Kawhi Leonard spending the entirety of the 2021-22 NBA season sequestered on the sidelines due to a torn ACL, the former two-time Defensive Player of the Year will finally make his return to the court. Stoic in nature and soft-spoken even when off the court, Leonard is still a bonafide star in this league. So is his running mate, Paul George.
But while the combination of the two are about as good as it gets as a tandem, the Clippers will be much more than a two-man show.
Losing Leonard for the entire season, and being forced to watch George clap and cheer on the sidelines as he nursed multiple injuries, is never a good thing. However, it allowed the Clippers and coach Ty Lue, to tweak a few things when it comes to the way he uses his bench.
With players such as Terence Mann, Brandon Boston Jr., Eric Bledsoe, and Luke Kennard coming off the bench and giving the Clippers a well-needed spark, they often carried them over the finish line. In addition to those previously mentioned names, the Clippers also made a few eye-catching midseason moves.
Joining their bench unit was the explosive offensive firepower of Norman Powell and the silky smooth shooting of Robert Covington. As a result, the Clippers, at least on paper, produced the second highest scoring bench in the entire league. With 40 points per game coming from their second unit, only the Miami Heat scored more, as they finished the season at 40.5. Also, the Clippers registered the second highest total points off their bench, checking in at 3,282.
Truth be told, despite the numbers, the Miami Heat’s bench was a tad bit overrated. Tyler Herro, the reigning Sixth Man of the Year, scored. 20.7 of the Heat’s 40.5. bench points. Also, Herro racked up 1,367 total bench points while the rest of the Heat second unit only poured in 1,955 during the season. So what does all of that mean? Simply put, the Heat’s second unit was very much a one-man show.
At times, due to a long list of injuries, coach Lue was forced to play some of his second unit guys in the starting lineup. As long as the Clippers can avoid the injury bug for most of their 82 games during the regular season, they should have far and away, the best bench in the entire league.
Paul George and Kawhi Leonard will garner most of the defensive attention when they’re on the court. They’ll also be credited for much of the Clippers’ success. However, if LA’s second unit is as prolific on the court as they seem to be on paper, they will be the reason why the Clippers make a championship run.