NBA

Pacific Division Roundup: Los Angeles Clippers

Aug 11, 2023, 9:31 AM

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 03: Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers is guarded by Domantas Saboni...

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

(Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

NBA training camps will open next month, meaning we are closing in on the start of the 2023-24 season.

As we prepare for another exciting season of Sacramento Kings basketball, it’s time to look around at the Pacific Division and check on what the five returning NBA Playoff teams have done to upgrade their rosters this summer.

Which teams have made the most significant changes? Although Sacramento is the reigning Pacific Division champion, has another team done enough to its roster to take the crown?

Let’s dive in.

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Los Angeles Clippers

  • 2022-23 record: 44-38
  • Place in Pacific: 3rd
  • Finish in Western Conference: 5th seed
  • Playoffs: Lost 1-4 to the Phoenix Suns in Western Conference First Round

It’s hard to think about the Los Angeles Clippers without thinking about the double-overtime thriller that took place against the Sacramento Kings on February 24th.

Sacramento pulled out a 176-175 win in what was the second-highest scoring game in NBA history, nonetheless against a Clippers team that had all of its rotation players available.

Availability has been Los Angeles’ greatest enemy over the past three seasons, with superstar Kawhi Leonard failing to play over 57 games in a season for the Clippers since the 2019-20 season. Over the past two seasons alone, Leonard has played in 104 games and missed the entire 2021-22 playoffs, while playing in just two postseason games in 2022-23.

Leonard and eight-time All-Star forward Paul George were supposed to be the driving forces behind a Western Conference powerhouse, but George has also been unavailable for a large chunk of games during his Clippers tenure.

Since the start of the 2019-20 season, George has averaged just 47.2 games per year while working through an assortment of injuries.

The All-Star duo of Leonard (32 years old) and George (33 years old) is running out of time to turn this Los Angeles team into a championship contender, and making the 2023-24 season an important one for this group of aging stars.

With the Western Conference stronger than ever, any opening that the Clippers had for winning a championship is closing by the day. Can Leonard and George lead this team to the promised land? First, let’s see what the current state of the rotation looks like.

Los Angeles Clippers Offseason Moves & Depth Chart

  • Re-signed guard Russell Westbrook to a two-year, $7.8 million contract
  • Re-signed center Mason Plumlee to a one-year, $5 million contract
  • Traded for forward Kenyon Martin Jr. (via Houston)

It was a quiet offseason for Los Angeles, who brought back former MVP guard Russell Westbrook on a team-friendly deal.

Entering his age-35 season, Westbrook isn’t the player that he was three-or-four years ago, but the ‘Brodie’ can still make a difference on the floor. After a tumultuous tenure with the Los Angeles Lakers, Westbrook found success with the Clippers after a mid-season switch from yellow and purple to blue and red:

  • 21 G, 15.8 PTS, 4.9 REB, 7.6 AST, 49% FG, 35% 3PT, 1.1 STL, 30.2 MIN

Los Angeles’ depth kept them afloat in the tough Western Conference last season, with Westbrook, Nicolas Batum, Bones Hyland, Terance Mann, Norman Powell, Ivica Zubac, and Mason Plumlee all providing the Clippers with production during the final stretch.

If the Clippers can get 65+ games out of Leonard and George, that could mean trouble for the rest of the Pacific Division in 2023-24.

On the other side of things, if one of both of Leonard or George miss an extended period due to injury, the door will swing wide open for other teams in the postseason chase.

Sacramento Kings Offseason Schedule

  • August TBD – 2023-24 NBA regular season schedule release
  • September TBD – Sacramento Kings training camp begins
  • Sunday, October 8th – Sacramento Kings @ Toronto Raptors – 5 PM PST (Preseason opener)
  • October TBD – NBA regular season begins

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Pacific Division Roundup: Los Angeles Clippers