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The Roar



Why are the LA Clippers easily getting away without criticism?

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18th February, 2023

Almost four years have passed since the Clippers coordinated a sensational double swoop for superstars Kahwi Leonard and Paul George. 

Excitement and belief were growing within the franchise. They have forever been in the shadow of their hometown rivals the Lakers, but the shift of dominance was looking increasingly likely. 

Before signing, Kahwi had just come off a remarkable season with the Toronto Raptors, helping the Canadian-based team to their first-ever NBA championship which he carried on his shoulders. 

Paul George then completed the dynamic partnership by joining forces, an all-round talent who is widely considered one of the best two-way players in the league. 

Mix that in with the solid pieces around them the past few seasons such as Ivica Zubac, Patrick Beverley, Marcus Morris, and Norman Powell, it set high expectations for a franchise which have not been accustomed to that sort of pressure. 

The experiment has been anything but a success so far and they are a mirror image of the demise of the Brooklyn Nets who possessed a superteam of their own in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. 

2020 – 3-1 up in the conference semi-finals against the Denver Nuggets, only to lose 4-3.
2021 – Lost the conference finals to the Phoenix Suns 4-2.
2022 – Lost two games in the play-in tournament against the Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans.
2023 – Ranked 4th in the west with a 33-28 record thus far.

Some lean-way can be given to the clippers in Leonard and George’s first season together due to the difficult circumstances regarding the bubble during the pandemic, as well as Kawhi’s ACL injury which ruled him out for the entirety of last season.


No one is arguing that the Clippers should have made a deep run without their number one player absent, but the finger needs to be pointed at the ownership for the lack of activity during the trade period to find short-term solutions to at least make them more competitive, instead of treating it as a gap year.

Kawhi Leonard fends off Jae Crowder

(Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

Even in this current campaign, the Clippers are performing too inconsistently and not enough people are holding them accountable for their mediocrity.

Yes, other teams around them have significantly strengthened since the arrival of Leonard and George, but this is by no means a get-out-of-jail card.

Owner Steve Ballmer has spent just over $190 million on player contracts, making them the second most-most expensive team in the league behind the Golden State Warriors. You wouldn’t think it considering the topsy-turvy results and underwhelming performances.

A few issues can be highlighted to explain the Clippers’ underachieving. 

Everyone was fully aware of the physical issues that Kawhi has faced throughout his career, requiring load management and rest to get his body right. 


As understandable as this is, it doesn’t mean that it’s not frustrating for the Clippers to not have him on the floor for more games. It goes back to that word of ‘consistency’ where the 2019 finals MVP is dispossessing crucial minutes to allow for the team to fully connect and gel. 

Even before his ACL injury, Leonard missed 55 regular season games in his first two years in Los Angeles. 

To put it into perspective for this current season, Leonard and George have only appeared 26 times together after 61 games, which is only 42.6%.

It becomes a domino effect down to the role players who are also impacted. They are asked to produce more on a more consistent basis than they were anticipating, resulting in more pressure, especially for the youngsters. 

Since the Clippers’ meltdown to the Nuggets in the 2020 playoffs which ended the tenure of coach Doc Rivers, his replacement, Tyronn Lue, was tasked with the challenge of steering the ship back on course. 

The former Clipper assistant has had players unavailable, but the 45-year-old is tinkering with the lineup and positions too often, which once again is part of the inconsistency issues.

Norman Powell has had to create a lot more on offence, while Terance Mann has been all over the place in terms of both minutes played and his court positioning, having more responsibilities on both ends of the court. 


It is puzzling that this team has not come under more scrutiny and criticism than it has since the Kawhi and PG move happened. 

Injuries are a part of sports and unfortunately, it is a harsh reality, but that doesn’t mean teams can’t find ways to work around those barriers.

If there is no team chemistry and cohesion between now and the end of the regular season, the Clippers won’t be threatening any of the top favourites in both conferences.