Coming into the 2019-20 NBA season, the LA Clippers seemed poised to take a run at the title. The year, however, didn’t go as planned. Beyond the logistical concerns—the coronavirus pandemic interrupted the season and forced teams into the bubble—the club fell short of their ultimate goal; on Tuesday night, the Clippers were eliminated by the Denver Nuggets.
In the coming days, everything, from the Clippers roster to Doc Rivers’ tactics, will be broken down and analyzed, searching for a weak link. Paul George, however, thinks there’s a simple solution to the team’s problems.
The 2019-20 LA Clippers were built to win a championship
In recent years, the Lakers have been the top dog in the California basketball scene. 2020, however, was supposed to be the year when the Clippers took a great leap forward.
While the club has improved since their days in the proverbial cellars, the last offseason took things to the next level. The Clippers signed Kawhi Leonard, fresh off his second NBA title, in free agency and traded for Paul George.
Beyond the obvious star power, those deals gave the Clippers two talented players who are perfect for the modern positionless NBA. Both George and Leonard can play lockdown defense, score from the perimeter, and hold their own in the paint; having both of them on the same roster should, in theory, create matchup disasters for the opposition.
Things simply didn’t go as the LA Clippers planned
On paper, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were supposed to form a dynamic duo and lift the LA Clippers to an NBA championship. Once the season began, however, things didn’t go as planned.
When the campaign began, George was sidelined after shoulder surgery; between that reality and Leonard’s load management, the two stars didn’t take the floor together until the end of November. Once they had developed some chemistry together, though, there was another issue.
In March, the entire NBA season was suspended; when things resumed in the bubble, things didn’t get easier. Three Clippers, Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams, and Patrick Beverley, all had to leave Orlando for personal reasons.
Everything, of course, came to a head on Tuesday night. Despite jumping out to a 3-1 series lead, the Clippers were eliminated by the Denver Nuggets. Leonard and George both struggled, Doc Rivers blew another lead, and the season ended in disappointment.
Paul George thinks the team simply needs more time
As the cliche says, time heals all wounds. While it will take some time for the Clippers to get over Tuesday’s elimination, Paul George also thinks that patience could solve their issues.
“We just missed a lot of time being together with injuries in the regular season and inside the bubble,” he explained, according to Ohm Youngmisuk of ESPN. “But I think, internally, we’ve always felt this is not a championship-or-bust year for us. You know, we can only get better the longer we stay together and the more we’re around each other. More chemistry for [the] group, the better. I think that’s really the tale of the tape of this season. We just didn’t have enough time together.”
On paper, the LA Clippers had enough talent to compete for an NBA title; that talent, however, couldn’t even carry them to the Western Conference Finals. Was chemistry the missing ingredient? At this point, only time will tell.