Superstar Kawhi Leonard didn’t play a single game for the Clippers, and Paul George only appeared in 31. However, LA still went 42-40 and made the NBA Play-In Tournament with guys like Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris.
That’s a promising sign for the 2022-23 Clippers.
Leonard and George should be healthy this upcoming season, immediately making them legit title contenders in the Western Conference. And if recent reports are accurate and LA signs John Wall, the move could turn into one of the greatest in team history.
Or it could be a disaster.
John Wall can help the Clippers contend for a title … if he stays healthy
John Wall recently agreed to a buyout with the Houston Rockets, and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski and Tim MacMahon reported that he now plans to sign with the Clippers.
Wall didn’t play at all last season due to the Rockets being in a rebuilding phase. But he still has enough left in the tank to help Leonard, George, and company contend for a championship.
The five-time All-Star recorded 20.6 points and 6.9 assists in 40 games in 2020-21. He’s a proven distributor, averaging at least 10.0 assists in three different seasons. And that passing ability can help put Leonard and George, two elite scorers, in ideal spots with ease.
However, he can also take pressure off those two stars. During their 2020-21 playoff run, George averaged 26.9 points, and Leonard scored 30.4 points per game before going down with a knee injury that led to his season-long absence last year. They had to share the bulk of the scoring load. Wall is a career 19.1 points per game scorer, and he has always been a terrific finisher around the rim. His shot-making skills can keep George and Leonard from having to do too much.
A trio of PG, Kawhi, and Wall surrounded by guys like Robert Covington and Norman Powell, who the Clippers acquired at last season’s trade deadline, as well as Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris, Ivica Zubac, and Terance Mann could be talented enough to compete with the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors.
However, health is the most significant question mark when it comes to Wall. Before 2020-21, the point guard missed a season and a half due to heel and Achilles tendon injuries. He hasn’t played in over 41 games since 2016-17. For a team that dealt with a plethora of injuries in 2021-22, signing another injury-prone player could be a disaster. But considering he will probably make the mid-level exception, perhaps the smaller salary will be worth the risk.
Adding John Wall could lift the Clippers to the top of the Western Conference next season and help them contend for their first championship in franchise history. Or he could just become another injured body on the bench, and the move could prove to be a major mistake.
No matter what happens, LA won’t just fly under the radar again in 2022-23.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference