Hello once again, Razzballers. Not sure why I’m saying hi like it’s a surprise you’re here, but we’ll just go along with it and I’ll act disappointed you didn’t bring nachos. Nachos, man, will no one think of me? As the arrival of the newest NBA season comes closer (nearer?), it’s that time again to go over the specific teams and do our yearly ritual to pontificate, debate, and articulate what we see before us. Don’t ask me why it sounds like some slogan from the corporate zeitgeist where synergistic methods on trending markets do something or whatever. I just wanted nachos. For my first preview, we’ll be tackling the Los Angeles Clippers, a franchise that has really made me question why I follow sports at all, and then I remembered I know this pain. I was born in it, molded by it. As a Padres fan, it’s always nice to see darkness, my old friend. Exiting stage left from last year’s playoffs (or right, I don’t think it matters which direction) once again in the Conference Finals was both expected and surprising. There were many caveats as to why it happened yet again, but there were also a lot of great developments that could help the Clippers in their goal to finally reach the NBA Finals. So let’s see how the Clippers are shaping up and the fantasy implications henceforth. Medieval vernacular, why not?
2021-2022 Los Angeles Clippers Depth Chart
|Starters||Reggie Jackson||Paul George||Nicolas Batum||Marcus Morris||Ivica Zubac|
|Rotation||Eric Bledsoe||Terance Mann||Luke Kennard||Serge Ibaka|
|Rotation||Yogi Ferrell||Jay Scrubb||Justise Winslow|
|Lim PT||Jason Preston||Keon Johnson|
|Lim PT||Brandon Boston||Kawhi Leonard (Injured)|
Current NBA Free Agents
So I mentioned caveats, but it basically boils down to injuries. How the Clippers did what they did to get as far as they did means something despite not eclipsing their own glass ceiling of never reaching the Finals. And that’s because of the plethora of injuries suffered. Kawhi Leonard missed the last two games of the Western Conference Semifinals and then the entire Western Conference Finals. Serge Ibaka only started two playoff games. During the regular season, Leonard missed 20 games, Paul George missed 18, Ibaka was out for 31, and Patrick Beverley missed 35. Look, durability is always going to be an issue with a veteran team, and these veterans have long histories of health issues. Always something to think about as we enter the next season, especially with the aforementioned Leonard coming off his freshly minted ACL surgery.
Beyond that, the Clippers have already started shoring up their core by unsurprisingly re-signing Leonard, securing him for the next three years, and also recently trading for Eric Bledsoe, shedding Beverley, Rajon Rondo, and Daniel Oturu in the process. Beyond that and some interesting rumors dealing with Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan, it’s been a somewhat similar offseason to last year when the front office tried to tackle perceived weaknesses not with a splash, but with a ripple. In nautical terms, nothing much you can do. Retaining both Reggie Jackson and Nicolas Batum are under-the-radar moves but have the potential to continue to pay dividends with Jackson stepping up heavily last season for Leonard and Batum contributing at both ends of the floor through the year.
And so there really isn’t any dynamic shift in the division, therefore this Clippers team will probably go far again this season, just like we should expect, and really their most serious competition will simply be the test of time. While the year of COVID is now two seasons removed, we’ll be reminded of the long attrition that all NBA players must withstand. There’s no sugar-coating that it’ll be another tough season for this team specifically, but there’s something to be said about the return of Playoff P and Kawhi Leonard, the addition of three interesting rookies, and of course, the addition of Eric Bledsoe.