1 Problem that continues to plague the Clippers

One specific setback keeps rearing its ugly head when the Clippers get close to greatness.
Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, LA Clippers
Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, James Harden, LA Clippers / Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

It is no secret that the LA Clippers are not exactly one of the most successful teams in NBA history. They struggled for much of their earlier history, finishing in 10th place or worse in the Western Conference for 10 straight seasons throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. Overall, they hold the second-lowest winning percentage in league history, ahead of only the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Those are important facts to remember during the current era of Clippers basketball. There are still struggles in the here and now, but the Clips are a far cry from where they once were. Ever since Chris Paul moved to Los Angeles in 2011 and formed the famous "Lob City" team, the Clippers have been known as a winning basketball team, and they have appeared in the playoffs in all but two seasons since that 2011-12 season.

Fans of the NBA born in the 2000s or later probably think of the Clippers as perennial winners, despite their playoff disappointments, and that is a significant statement for older, longer-tenured die-hard fans of the team. But even with as much success as LA has seen in the last 12 years and despite the top-level talent they have on their roster, they have been consistently hampered by one persisting problem: injuries.

We know that injuries are an unfortunate reality of basketball and of athletics in general, so it is not like the Clippers could have really done anything to avoid their injury troubles over the years. But as we examine the history, it is truly remarkable how much that particular circumstance has altered the Clippers' course, especially in the 213 era.

The Clippers are consistently limited due to injuries

When the Clippers announced the additions of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, it seemed like a pairing that would instantly take over the league and put LA at the top of the Western Conference for years to come. As it turns out, reality was a bit more complicated. After nearly two straight years of good health in 2018-19 with the Raptors and 2019-20 with the Clips, Kawhi exited the 2021 playoffs with a torn ACL.

It was an extremely unfortunate and untimely injury, given that LA was about to (and would go on to) eliminate the top-seeded Jazz in the semifinals. Without their superstar, the Clippers fell in the conference finals. With Kawhi missing all of the following season and George dealing with injury troubles of his own, the Clips missed the playoffs entirely in 2021-22.

Both of LA's superstars had already experienced injury troubles and missed crucial games in the past before arriving in LA, so the evidence that injuries were limiting this team's potential was starting to stack up. The next season in 2022-23, Leonard was forced to load manage while getting back to form post-ACL injury. By the time the end of their playoff run arrived, both of the stars were sitting on the bench with injuries.

Factor in this past season, and four out of the five Clippers seasons since Leonard and George arrived have resulted in one or both missing significant time and it having a direct impact on the team's season result. Kawhi in particular has finished each of the past four seasons injured. The last time he remained on the floor in uniform when LA's season came to a close was in the bubble back in September 2020.

It has never been clearer that injuries are the biggest downfall of this Clippers team. But although they have failed over and over again due to their stars not being able to stay on the court, there is still hope for the Clips. It may seem like a fairy tale, but it could take just one healthy run to turn this entire injury narrative around.