The Los Angeles Clippers have proved that they can win games without their star small forward, Paul George. But having George back on the court is going to make the Clippers an even tougher team to beat as the year rolls on. George participated in his first full live practice on Saturday and as his debut nears, discussions of which Clippers player will sit due to George’s return have heated up.
Here is everything you need to know about Paul George’s return and how it could impact the outlook of the Clippers roster this year.
Clippers’ Current Starting Five
Without Paul George, the Clippers have been starting Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Beverley, Ivica Zubac, Landry Shamet and Patrick Patterson with that lineup being tweaked a bit at times. It goes without saying that one of these players will be losing minutes and surely their starting position as soon as Paul George makes his debut.
As reported by Clippers Nation, Clippers head coach Doc Rivers isn’t too concerned about the roster. He said, “I don’t really worry about it. It’s a team. Anybody who thinks they’re going to keep their minutes and Paul’s not going to get them is probably not very rational, anyway. That’s why teams work.”
The Clippers roster is a very versatile group of players and the current starting lineup has been fighting tough battles. They have been earned a few well-deserved wins. Even without their star player in Leonard at times, the team has still impressed. Paul George’s return is going to create a super team that’ll be tough to beat.
Who Will Lose Minutes on the Court?
Due to the fact that the Clippers roster is so strong, one player losing minutes will only result in an even stronger bench. Leonard, Beverley and Zubac have a solid spot in the starting five, so they don’t have anything to worry about. Shamet and Patterson are two players whose starting positions are at risk.
Patterson started the season hot and had an impressive showing early when he scored 20 points against the Golden State Warriors. Since then, Patterson has struggled to find rhythm on the court. He is currently averaging 4.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game. Shamet on the other hand, has been consistent. Though sometimes he too struggles to find momentum, he always finds ways to pull through and produce on both ends. This season he is averaging 9.4 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game.
Paul George’s Role on the Clippers
George is obviously going to play a pivotal role for the L.A. Clippers. He’s not only an amazing shooter, he also plays spectacular defense as he is a four-time member of NBA All-Defensive Teams. There are no limits to the six-time All Star’s abilities. Last season while playing with the Oklahoma City Thunder, George averaged 28.0 points per game and is a career 37.8 percent 3-point shooter.
Per USA Today Sports, George said, “I take pride in being on the court and being a ballplayer,” he said. “Instincts take over. I’m not really defining myself by my position. I just love to hoop and love to play the game.”
George has endured about six months of rehab and is ready to get back at it. He has been shooting before games and took part in full live practice on Saturday, per Clippers writer Tomer Azarly. After Saturday’s practice, head coach Doc Rivers said that though not likely, it is possible to see PG return in Monday’s night game against the Raptors.
If PG doesn’t suit up on Monday, it is likely to see him back on the court later in the week on Wednesday night against the Houston Rockets or Thursday night against the New Orleans Pelicans.