Best-case and worst-case scenarios for the LA Clippers

Russell Westbrook, LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Russell Westbrook, LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

After years of turning one blemished page after another, the LA Clippers can only hope that this next page will salvage the franchise from another crummy ending.

Following a premature exit from the 2023 Playoffs, the Clippers have decided to go all in for the upcoming season: They maintained the star tandem of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, re-signed key players on franchise-friendly deals and acquired exciting, young talent.

And while it’s impossible to correctly foretell the foreseeable future of this franchise, here are two of the millions of outcomes that the team could expect.

Best-case scenario

The old adage “health is wealth” holds a lot of truth for the LA Clippers.

Every season, the Clips look like an undeniable powerhouse, decorating headlines and covering magazines. Midway into the season, at least a couple of the players are sidelined as the team sinks deeply into a dark, lonely abyss of mediocrity. And come playoff time, more often than not, they play without one or both of their superstars.

But in the few games they do play with a fully healthy roster, the Clippers look like contenders.

The stoic superstar Kawhi Leonard is still one of the league’s premier two-way players. Two Finals MVPs and two championships — there’s no denying he can execute when it matters most. In the two games he played in the 2023 Playoffs, the five-time All-Star averaged 34.5 points on 54.5 percent shooting, 6.5 rebounds and 6 assists.

To pair with this undeniable talent in Leonard, the Clippers have two perennial All-Stars, Paul George and Russell Westbrook. George is another elite two-way player who can score the ball at will; the mix of his size, shot-making and handles has proven him to be a matchup nightmare. The California State product is coming off an All-Star year, putting up nearly 24 points 45.7 percent shooting from the field.

Then there’s Westbrook. A superstar-turned-controversy. To some, he’s a turnover machine that can’t knock down shots to save his life. But for the Clippers, he’s their long-wanted leader. The beating heart of the organization. Despite a shaky start to his Clippers’ tenure, the 2016-17 MVP finished with a bang — in five games in the 2023 Playoffs, he averaged 23.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 7.4 assists.

There’s no denying that a healthy trio of Leonard, George and Westbrook is one of the league’s best. And combined with the likes of Terance Mann, KJ Martin Jr. and Norman Powell, the Clippers, if healthy, have a legitimate shot at hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy.

Worst-case scenario

There’s also the chance — a great likelihood, in all honesty — that the LA Clippers don’t stay healthy.

In that case, the Clippers will struggle to advance to the Western Conference Finals, let alone the second round. Perhaps similar to their early exit from the 2023 Playoffs, they will fall short against to a healthy, star-stacked team.

And after another failed year for the Leonard-George experiment, it will probably end with the team dealing away their superstars and veterans in exchange for draft picks and younger talent. A dark, dismal end to another gloomy era of Clippers basketball.

Next. This rule could drastically impact the LA Clippers. dark

As likely or unlikely as these two starkly different outcomes may be, the Clippers’ season may also finish in an ambiguous gray zone, somewhere in between the two scenarios. Maybe they will reach the NBA finals for the first time in franchise history. Maybe they will miss the playoffs entirely. Only time will tell.