LA Clippers in review: Another Paul George season plagued by injuries

Paul George, LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Paul George, LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

As the famed saying goes, nothing in our lives is certain except death and taxes. Well, other than Paul George’s injuries, if you are the LA Clippers.

Harsh but true.

The team’s superstar, since his Hollywood homecoming in 2019, has yet to play over 60 games in a singular regular season. The most number of games he has played for the Clippers being this season’s 56.

This season, George’s season came to a complete halt just a couple of months before the playoffs: an unsightly right knee injury that came as a result of a bad collision with Lu Dort in the air. Without George’s savvy shooting and silky-smooth scoring, the Clippers would go on to get eliminated in five games by the Phoenix Suns in the first round.

Yes, the idea of a healthy George-Kawhi Leonard-Russell Westbrook trio in the playoffs keeps Clippers fans up at night. And yes, it’s not at all pleasant (or healthy) to have our best players sidelined (again) for the postseason.

But it would also be unreasonably harsh to judge one’s season based on the snowball effects of one bad Dort-led collision. So, here’s the comprehensive, retrospective overview of the eight-time All-Star’s season — with a small asterisk on the side, of course.

Prior to this injury, George was enjoying himself a productive, George-esque season — high-rising dunks, smooth-as-butter jump shots and a couple of opponents’ broken ankles and butts on the floor. Even just minutes before the season-ending injury, the veteran forward pulled out a move from his prime days, flushing down an acrobatic 360 dunk.

The Palmdale, Calif. native cruised into the season as the team’s first option: Leonard, having missed the entire last season, slowly found his rhythm mid-way into the season.

Injuries ruined another memorable season from LA Clippers’ star Paul George.

In 44 starts prior to the All-Star break, Paul George averaged 23.3 points, 6.1 rebounds and 5.3 assists for the LA Clippers. His all-around performance and leadership guided the Clippers to a 33-28 start — while a bit underwhelming, more than acceptable when considering the continued injuries of key players. These numbers earned George a much-deserved spot in the 2023 All-Star game.

Building off this feat, the 33-year-old took on the final quarter of the season with momentum. With a healthy Leonard and a newly-acquired Westbrook by his side, his offensive production took a slight increase to 25.8 points a game, though it did come at the price of efficient three-point shooting: he shot 32.6 percent from long range.

But before he truly saw the light with his new teammates, George fell to the season-ending injury. He finished the season as the team’s points and steals-per-game leader and second in assists behind Westbrook. In the 56 games he suited up for, the Clippers boasted a winning record of 32-24.

Even in retrospect, it’s hard to predict exactly how the availability of the superstar would have impacted the trajectory of the Clippers’ boat in the playoffs. Do they beat the Suns? Do they take down the Denver Nuggets, who would go on to win it all? No one truly knows.

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But one thing is for certain: the Clippers are a better, much scarier team when George is on the floor. I mean, how would a near-egoless, game-sealing, hard-defending megastar not make a team better?