Are the 2019-20 Clippers Meeting Expectations?


With the 2020 All-Star Break nearly over, teams are beginning to know their roles and take full form. Pre-season predictions are slowly being answered and expectations begin to be met. One team that had high expectations going in to the season was the Los Angeles Clippers. By adding all-stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to a team that made the playoffs last season, the Clippers were pre-season favorites to win the NBA Championship. Sitting at 3rd in the West and the 6th best record in the NBA, the expectations remain high for the Clippers to succeed this year.

ESPN experts had the Clippers tied for first in the West at 54-28 and the favorite to win the title. Leonard and George also saw themselves in the preseason MVP watch. Many others have the Clippers in the top two with over 50 wins going deep in the playoffs and even playing for the Larry O’Brien trophy. The Clippers have a 37-18 record and could very well meet these expectations.




The Clippers are top 10 in the league in a number of important categories. On the offensive side, the Clippers are scoring the 4th-most points/game in the NBA with 115.9. This has led to an offensive rating of 112.3 which is good for 6th. Their offense has allowed them to put up more points than their opponent per 100 possessions and has given them the 6th-best net rating of +5.4. The Clippers are one of the most effective teams at getting rebounds on offense and defense. They are tied for 2nd most on offense with 11.1 rebounds/game and 3rd on defense with 37.1 rebounds/game. This gives them the 3rd-most rebounds/game in the NBA with 48.2. On the other side of the ball, the Clippers sit at 6th in the league in defensive rating with 106.7.

To go along with the offense, defense and opponent, the Clippers have the 5th-best simple rating system (SRS) in the league. SRS takes into account the average point differential with strength of schedule. The Clippers have a 5.76 SRS with the NBA average being at 0. When putting into account the Clippers’ strength of schedule at 0.14 points better than the average team of 0, and margin of victory at a 6th best +5.62 points, this means that the Clippers are 5.76 points better than the average team.



The new all-star duo is the main reason for the high expectations. Bringing in two players who thrive on the offensive and defensive end should bring success. Leonard and George are leading the team in scoring and steals. Leonard is putting up 27.2 points/game while getting an NBA 5th-best 1.8 steals/game. The two-time finals MVP is the 5th-most used player in the league with a 33.4 usage percentage. He also sits at third among all NBA players in real plus/minus with +6.68. George is scoring 21.7 points/game and stealing the ball 1.3 times a game. Their presence has a factor on the game and they are able to create shots and create turnovers. It’s safe to say that the duo is a big reason why the Clippers are where they are today.

Although Leonard and George have been winning games with the Clippers, they both have missed a lot of games due to injuries and load management. Leonard has been battling a knee injury all season and has been participating in load management. This has caused him to miss 13 games this season and the Clippers are 6-7 without him. George has missed 21 games this season because of a shoulder injury and a recent hamstring injury. He sat out the first 11 games of the season while still rehabbing from shoulder surgery and has now been having trouble with his left hamstring. The Clippers are 14-7 in the games George sat out due to injury.

Having to battle these injuries, the duo has only played together under half the season. Out of the 55 games, the two all-stars have played together just 24 times. In those games, the Clippers are 17-7 when Leonard and George play together. The Clippers are 0-3 in games when Leonard and George both sit out, losing by a combined score of 26. Winning comes a lot easier for the Clippers when their all-stars are present, but can sometimes struggle when one or both are out.



The biggest strength of the Clippers isn’t their two all-stars or starting five, but having a strong bench to relieve the starters. The Clippers use their bench more than any team in the NBA by giving them 22.4 minutes a game. Allowing them to play big minutes gives them the opportunity to have an impact on the game. Their bench gets the most points in the league with 51.1 per contest. This comes as no surprise, as they shoot the most shots at 40.3/game and make the most at 18.7/game. This gives them the 5th-best shooting percentage out of all benches with 46.4%. The Clipper bench does more than shoot the ball– they can rebound as well. They are 1st in offensive rebounds with 5.1 per game and 2nd in defensive rebounds with 15.6 per game.

Coming off the bench, the Clippers have another duo that can change the outcome of the game. Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell are responsible for most of the offense that comes off the bench. Williams is 1st in off-the-bench scoring with 19.5 points/game along with 5.9 assists/game, and Harrell is 3rd with 18.8 points/game while grabbing 7.1 rebounds/game. They are both in the running for sixth man of the year and are the best duo coming off the bench in the NBA.



Although the Clippers are one of the best teams in the NBA, they have had some woes this season. There have been four instances where the Clippers have blown 15+ point leads this season. The first time was against the 9-18 Bulls in Chicago on Dec. 14th. With under five minutes to go in the second quarter, the Clippers found themselves up 15 in a game that looked like it would be a blowout without Kawhi. The Bulls closed out the first half on a 19-6 run to cut the lead to two points. The Clippers would be in a battle for the rest of the game, ultimately losing 109-106.

Five days later, the Clippers found themselves on another losing end of a game they were in position to win. On Dec. 19th, the Clippers welcomed the 18-9 Houston Rockets to Staples Center. With under two minutes to go in the first half, the Clippers were up 17 and went into halftime with a 15-point lead. Leonard and George were lighting up the scoreboard with game-highs, 17 and 18 points respectively in the first half. That lead would slowly disappear, as the Rockets found themselves up by three at the start of the fourth quarter. The Rockets pulled away and the Clippers lost 122-117.

The month of December was a tough one for the red and blue. Later that same week, the Clippers traveled to Oklahoma City to play the 14-14 Thunder on Dec. 22nd without Kawhi yet again. Once again in the second quarter, the Clippers were up by 18 with a little over five minutes to play. The Clippers maintained their lead but saw it slip away with three minutes to go in the game and lost 118-112. This was the third time the Clippers blew a big lead in five games.

The worst was yet to come from the Clippers. On Jan. 22nd, the Clippers traveled to Atlanta to take on the 10-34 Hawks. The Clippers would jump out fast and hold a double-digit lead after eight minutes. They would then proceed to go up 21 points with a minute remaining on the first half. They went into halftime with a 19-point lead without Leonard or George. The Clippers were outscored 61-35 in the second half and lost 102-95.

Health Will be Key to Clippers’ Potential Success

With the season inching closer to the playoffs, the Clippers have shown that they can be a contender and, in some cases, lose games they were in position to win. They have shown that when everyone is healthy, they can be a deadly team and beat anyone that come across. There’s still time for the team to build chemistry without their new teammates and understand their roles on the team. The Clippers are on their way to meet their expectations and the only thing that can stop them is themselves.

Stats taken from and Follow us on Twitter @TLSportsMedia for the latest NBA news and insight.

About Jordan Taylor

Los Angeles Clippers Writer. Email: | Twitter: @jtfsu98

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