The Los Angeles Clippers came into the 2022-23 NBA season as favorites to win the championship.
On paper, everything seemed lined up perfectly for them to succeed. Kawhi Leonard was back, healthy and looking like the Incredible Hulk.
Paul George was healthy.
The roster was deeper than ever.
It all made sense.
Unfortunately, 16 games into the year the Clippers are 9-7 and find themselves ninth in the Western Conference.
Worse yet, Leonard has struggled to stay on the floor. He has been hurt nonstop, with many whispering that his injury is secretly worse than anyone realized.
On Thursday night, after barely beating a terrible Detroit Pistons team, Leonard went off on his squad.
“I feel like we need to be better at everything: out of timeouts, defensive rotations, definitely the offensive end,” he said.
“We gotta start getting better shots and, um, just everything I feel like we’re behind and we need to start focusing up and this push.”
It is hard to argue with Leonard’s assessment. So far this year the Clippers have the second-worst offensive rating in the entire NBA.
Only the extremely humiliating Los Angeles Lakers have a worse one.
And it all starts with Leonard. In 25 minutes of action against Detroit he put up six points on 2-of-8 shooting, five rebounds and four assists. That’s not great.
So far this season Leonard has been far more impressive in his encounters with females sitting courtside than any substantive on-the-court basketball accomplishments.
In three games played so far, Leonard is averaging 10.3 points per game on 38.5 percent shooting from the field and 11.1 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
Chargers fans are coping with the loss in their own special way. https://t.co/68BhkruIru
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 17, 2022
The Clippers came into this season with lofty expectations. Much of their future success hinges on Leonard returning to form.
Will he actually be able to, though?
An answer should emerge soon enough.