Going into this NBA season, LA Clippers fans had every right to be excited. With a fully healthy Clippers roster, the team was equipped to go toe-to-toe against the best of the best. The team has the offensive and defensive firepower to match the rest of the league. The keyword here is “healthy,” as the team has experienced its fair share of injuries, mainly with their two stars, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
Leonard has suited up for only five games this season, with George missing the team’s most recent contest against the Utah Jazz with right knee soreness. George has suited up for 16/18 of the team’s games this season and has been available. However, he has his own lingering injury history, so here’s hoping that he stays healthy moving forward.
After a slow start, the Clippers have finally regained some footing this NBA season, sitting at fourth in the Western Conference and winning four of their last five games. The team boasts the second-highest defensive rating in the league, with 107.7. However, they have an almost league-worst offensive rating at 108.0.
There are some more positives and reasons to be thankful so far this season as a Clippers fan.
Paul George’s Availability and Efficiency
It’s too early to talk about whether or not his right knee will be an issue moving forward in the season. However, it isn’t too early to be confident in George’s play when he is available. Already playing more than half of the games he played than last season, George has been steadily contributing solid numbers across the board more efficiently than last season. He’s currently averaging 23.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.6 steals, and 0.4 blocks per game while shooting 45.8% from the field and 37.2% from three-point land, according to Statmuse.
This is without playing next to another all-star and essentially running the offense. When joining forces with Leonard, it never felt like George’s team. With Leonard’s availability in question, George has taken the full reigns of this team and has delivered so far this 2022 season. He has only scored less than 20 points six times so far this season and has already put up a 40-piece bomb against the Sacramento Kings.
Ivica Zubac Has Quietly Become One of the League’s Best Big Men
Ivica Zubac has really come into his own on the Clippers’ roster, mainly this season. He’s averaging 9.8 points, a career-high 1.9 blocks, 1.4 assists, and a career-high 11.2 rebounds per game, according to Statmuse. He’s appeared in all 18 games so far and can score enough off pick-and-roll baskets to average double digits in points later in the season. Zubac is currently ranked 6th in rebounds per game and second in blocks per game in the league. He’s playing the most minutes he’s ever played in his career at 30.8 per game, and his per 36 minutes stats give him some wild projections for stats.
For a salary of around $10 million, Zubac is playing with insane value on his contract, according to HoopsHype. Zubac is showing the league that you don’t need to pay a superstar salary for a quality big man who will do their job without having an overly coveted skillset such as scoring or playmaking. If you surround a center with the right pieces, he can make his teammates around him better and anchor a top-ranked defense.
John Wall Finding and Accepting His Role
After what feels like forever, Wall has finally found a new home and role off the Clippers bench. In 2020, the Wizards traded Wall for Westbrook in a blockbuster deal, going into full rebuild mode with Wall leading the way. After a “mutual” agreement to sit out games, Wall reached a buyout with the Rockets and was added to the Clippers roster to come off the bench. In a new role and similar style of play, Wall has found success in limited minutes.
Wall’s per 36-minute averages are reminiscent of his past stats, with a points average of 19, a steal rate of 1.9, assists an average of 9.5, and a rebound average of 4.5. He’s playing a career-low 22.2 minutes per contest and is making the most of his opportunity by scoring efficiently. He’s averaging 43.2% from the field while distributing at a high rate, still at 5.9 per game.
Unless he cranks up his efficiency, including his three-point and free-throw percentages, Wall won’t take home the 6th Man of the Year award. However, he will be integral to the success of a deep Clippers team that will need his offensive playmaking abilities to boost their low offensive rating.