NBA Season Preview 2022-23: Can the Los Angeles Clippers reach their ceiling?

Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Clippers Season Preview

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Can the Los Angeles Clippers finally achieve their championship aspirations?

Since acquiring Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in 2019, the Los Angeles Clippers have had championship aspirations.

In 2020, the Clippers blew a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets in the bubble. In 2021, they had their best season in franchise history under head coach Tyronn Lue, but Leonard suffered an ACL injury in the second round against the Utah Jazz. In 2022, the Clippers lost in the play-in to the New Orleans Pelicans. They were without both Leonard and George in that game. Entering their fourth year together, can the superstar duo lead the Clippers to their first title in franchise history?

Los Angeles Clippers offseason overview

Players in:

  • John Wall
  • Moses Brown
  • Moussa Diabate

Players out:

  • Isaiah Hartenstein
  • Rodney Hood
  • Jay Scrubb
  • Xavier Moon

John Wall was unquestionably the biggest addition of the offseason for the Clippers. Wall will fill the playmaking point guard role previously held by Eric Bledsoe and Rajon Rondo, and he will give them a dynamic scoring threat in transition. Losing Isaiah Hartenstein hurts. He was solid off the bench last season, but Tyronn Lue likes to deploy Nicolas Batum or Marcus Morris Sr. at center in small-ball lineups.

Los Angeles Clippers projected rotation

Point guard remains a question mark. Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reported that Jackson is expected to open the season as the starter. Nevertheless, that does not signify Jackson will log more minutes than Wall. Tyronn Lue typically deploys a different closing lineup than his starting lineup. Jackson is a better shooter and has thrived alongside Leonard and George, while Wall is a better playmaker with more offensive upside.

The Clippers are truly 15 players deep, so how will Lue allocate bench minutes? Does Moses Brown get minutes as a true center? Who becomes the 11th man? Terance Mann and Amir Coffey are both young two-way wings, who played well last season. It will be difficult to cut either of them out of the rotation.

PG: Reggie Jackson
SG: Paul George
SF: Kawhi Leonard
PF: Marcus Morris Sr.
C: Ivica Zubac

Bench:

  • John Wall
  • Norman Powell
  • Luke Kennard
  • Terance Mann
  • Robert Covington
  • Amir Coffey
  • Moses Brown

Best-case and worst-case scenario for the Los Angeles Clippers

Best case scenario: Kawhi Leonard and Paul George remain healthy. Leonard returns to being one of the best players in the NBA. With the defensive attention centered on Leonard and George, John Wall prospers in his role. Behind their depth and versatility, the Clippers are a nightmare matchup in the playoffs, and they win their first championship in franchise history.

Worst case scenario: Leonard and George fail to stay healthy. Injuries continue to plague the Clippers. Behind their depth, the Clippers remain competitive. In a repeat of last season, the Clippers top .500, but they are unable to make a deep playoff run.

Award Watch: Can Norman Powell become the next Clipper to win Sixth Man of the Year?

A Clippers player has won Sixth Man of the Year in five of the last nine years. Can Norman Powell become the next Clipper to win the award? Marcus Morris Sr. is expected to be a starter, which would leave Powell to come off the bench.

Last season, Powell excelled in his five games with the Clippers. He averaged 21.4 points while shooting a blistering 54.2 percent from 3. Powell continued to impress during the preseason. On Oct. 12, he scored 34 points on 11-of-14 from the field and 4-of-6 from beyond the arc in 25 minutes.

The Clippers should be one of the top seeds in the West. Therefore, Powell has the potential to put together a strong case for the award.

Los Angeles Clippers predicted record and finish

At full strength, the Clippers have the best roster in the West. With Leonard and George active, the Clippers have a 59-21 record. I do not expect them to largely deviate from that pace this season — 60-22, First in the Western Conference.

One reason the Los Angeles Clippers are worth watching this season

The Clippers are loaded with talent, but injuries have held them back over the last two years. With Leonard out, George still led the Clippers to the Western Conference Finals in 2021. At full strength, the Clippers are proven to be legitimate title contenders, and the additions of Wall, Powell, and Covington only make them more dangerous.

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