Clippers

How Long Can LAC Stay Afloat Without PG?

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As he stated this past offseason, Paul George is back with his trainer from his MVP-caliber season.

In that notable ‘MVPG’ season, George averaged career highs in points, rebounds and steals per game. He also finished third in MVP and DPOY voting. In his 20 games played so far this season, it’s evident he’s back to that form as he’s averaging an excellent 24.4 points,  6.2 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game.

George is also on track to become a member of the rare 50-40-90 club (50% FG, 40% 3PT, 90% FT). While we’ve seen very outstanding production from PG so far this season, the injury plague unfortunately has struck once again as he’s missed over a week with bone edema in his toe and could miss more time.

How long will George be out for?

This injury typically shows inconclusive traits in terms of recovery time. Bone edema is where fluid builds up at the marrow of the bone and usually happens in reaction to an injury.

Previous NBA cases of bone edema have shown an extended absence for players. Boston’s Robert Williams missed about 2.5 months with the injury in his hip and Chicago’s Otto Porter Jr. missed about five months with it in his left foot.

While those cases aren’t promising forecasts at all for George, it’s still very unclear how much time he will miss. The best treatment is rehab and rest, which could take some time. 

Why His Injury Matters So Much

While George has been arguably the most-criticized NBA player after a few rough playoff performances in recent history, he is still very important for the Clippers. This season, LAC is 5-4 with losses to the Spurs, Hawks, Celtics and Kings when PG has been unavailable. The Clips have good surrounding players that can contribute, but some of those players just haven’t found their groove so far this season. 

Another problem is the Clippers shoot a lot of threes, with a major chunk coming from George (7.9/game). An extended absence could cause that production to dip, as the Clippers boast the best three-point shooting team in the NBA at over 42%. This puts them on track to be the second-best three-point shooting team in league history.

What if PG Misses Extended Time?

Coach Tyronn Lue has experimented well with different lineups but has yet to find a clear advantage. As the saying goes, next man up!

So far, Lou Williams has done just that, averaging 22.2 points, 3.2 rebounds and 6.7 assists per game on 50.0% shooting from the field and 38.5% from three in the last six games PG has missed.

Marcus Morris has also strung together a few nice games, averaging 19.0 points per game in his last six which includes a 20-point, six-three-pointer effort in the team’s win against Chicago, a 23-6-2 performance against Cleveland, and 32 points (26 in the first half) in the team’s most-recent win against Miami.

In addition to Williams and Morris, the team has to take some weight off Kawhi Leonard’s shoulders. Leonard is averaging 26.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game this season, while increasing that to 29.3 points and 8.8 assists over his last four games. His hot streak was cut short, however, as he’s missed the last two games due to a lower-leg contusion.

The return of Patrick Beverley (right knee soreness) is also very helpful. He brings intangible sequences, high intensity, solid shooting, and great defense. In the last three years, the team has won 68% of their games with Bev in the lineup, but just 49% when he doesn’t.

On Monday, the Clippers were missing George, Kawhi, Beverley and Nic Batum, but still found their way to victory. They’ve had past struggles without their stars, but back-to-back wins without them have shown great cohesion, resilience and excitement. They’ll need these high-output showings to stay afloat until PG returns.

A fully healthy Clipper team is a contender, but if their reinforcements continue exhibiting dominance, watch out.

LAC play the West’s best in the Utah Jazz Wednesday at 7 PM PT.

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About Griffin Greenberg

Griffin is a Californian native from LA, San Diego, and the Bay Area. He loves watching and playing all sports, actively tweets about them, previously wrote sports articles for his own blog, and he creates sports content on youtube. Griffin is currently in high school and planning on majoring in Sports Journalism in college.

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