We are less than a week away from the start of the 2023-24 NBA season. A team that seems to be headed into a bit of a crossroads in 2023-24 is the Los Angeles Clippers. The more you look it, the timeline for the Clippers to win the championship seems to be now or never. Its a veteran team that has some continuity.
We’ve been in the Kawhi Leonard and Paul George era for five seasons now and it seems like neither star player can stay healthy. Four years of spending a lot of Steve Ballmer’s money with little to show — one trip to the conference Finals. That is not what everyone expected when this NBA Duo was created in 2019. Combine that disappointment with the fact that both players can leave in free agency this offseason – unless extensions are worked out – not to mention a thinner and aging group of role players surrounding them. This season just feels like a now-or-never situation for the Clippers. There has been rumors and reports of James Harden heading to LA, but nothing has come of it yet.
The No. 30 overall pick projects to be in Los Angeles well after the Kawhi and PG era is over. He’s a 6-7 wing who blossomed into a valuable starter in college. His best chances of receiving playing time as a rookie will be embracing a 3-and-D role off the bench. There’s a possibility that he may start the season in the G-League.
Kenyon Martin Jr.
The 23-year-old small forward is coming off the best year of his young career. I would expect that he would receive the same amount of minutes or close to it. This means he should be able to give the Clippers the same production that he gave the Rockets.
The 15-year NBA Veteran might not be as good as he used to be but no matter where he plays, he contributes with his leadership and three-point shooting ability. The salary was quite high though and the Clippers needed to shed some of that. With Terance Mann on the rise to stardom opening a role for him to blossom even further seemed like a logical choice.
The Los Angeles Clippers have already named Mann the last starter heading into the 2023-24 regular season. Outside of him, the rest of the starting unit will remain the same from a season ago. It’ll be interesting to see if Westbrook can actually help this group for a full season.
This bench unit may be better than last years with Martin added. Outside of that it looks to be the same group minus Mann who has joined the first team. Tyronn Lue will likely run with a combination of Hyland and Powell at the backup PG.
The Clippers are heading into the new campaign as an underdog (+2700). Health will have the biggest hinderance to the Clippers title odds. Though, the potential of what this team could truly be is still there. One might roll their eyes at the thought of Los Angeles being a title contender once more, but there is a big difference this season as opposed to past ones: the betting market does not believe anymore. When Leonard and George were on the floor together last season, the Clippers outscored opponents by 8.3 points every 100 possessions. But none of this should come as a surprise to those reading this. We know that Leonard and George are great when they are available, but when will they be available? How do you prepare for when your star duo, who has only 142 games together since they became teammates, 38 of which came last season, isn’t on the court. The front office has done an excellent job at adding some younger depth to surround the veterans. Even if Leonard and George surpass what we’ve seen in terms of availability, I would expect them to go 49-33.
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