It’s Early, But Clippers Star in Desperate Need of Help

Paul George

Getty Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George looks on during a game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

One week does not a season make but if the early returns are any indication, the Los Angeles Clippers could be in trouble. Wednesday night’s bout with the Cleveland Cavaliers represented the low point for the year to date, as Paul George and Co. mustered just 79 points — at home — against a team that was 22-50 last season.

Although a lot of things went wrong in the contest, Paul George’s 6-for-20 performance stuck out like a sore thumb. Not so much because of what it meant for him but, really, because of what it means for the rest of the team.

Simply put, while co-star Kawhi Leonard is healing up, George needs significant support in pushing this train along. As good as he is, the seven-time All-Star can’t keep things on the track by himself. When he hasn’t had help, the Clippers haven’t come through.

And, by and large, his backing band hasn’t been striking the right notes.


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CAVALIERS at CLIPPERS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | October 27, 2021CAVALIERS at CLIPPERS | FULL GAME HIGHLIGHTS | October 27, 2021 The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the LA Clippers, 92-79. Collin Sexton led all scorers with 26 PTS and 7 REB for the Cavaliers, while Darius Garland added 16 PTS, 4 REB and 6 AST in the victory. Paul George tallied 12 PTS, 10 REB and…2021-10-28T04:53:24Z

Perhaps more than the rest of George’s backing crew, the pressure is on Reggie Jackson and Eric Bledsoe to fill in for Leonard. However, the duo has been a mixed bag so far.

Through four games, Jackson and Bledsoe have combined to average 27.3 points, 8.6 assists and 8.1 boards per contest. While that’s the kind of line fans want from their backcourt duo, the two are struggling to make shots. So far, Jackson and Bledsoe are combining to make just 35.4% of their overall attempts and 26.4% from deep.

As rough as things have been from a shooting standpoint, though, their defense has been just as underwhelming. When Bledsoe and Jackson have been on the court together this season, the Clippers are conceding almost 117 points per 100 possessions. Meanwhile, the team has corraled just 43.4% of available rebounds during those minutes.

When you throw Ivica Zubac into the mix, the defensive numbers get even worse. If you ask Jackson, though, the solution there is an easy one.

“The biggest thing for us is always communication, so defensively, we have to communicate, we have to talk about coverages, we’re gonna have to be vocal and then from there … it’s all our will to want to stop people,” he said after an earlier loss, via The Los Angeles Times.

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Growing Pains

Given the Clippers’ new mix — with Leonard and Serge Ibaka still out and Marcus Morris missing recent games as well — some level of suboptimal play is to be expected. Entering the year, coach Tyronn Lue even indicated there would be some growing pains.

Moreover, we’re talking about four games here. Hitting the panic button shouldn’t even be a thought yet.

Still, George clearly needs more than he’s getting from his running mates in the starting five. The Clippers can’t count on Luke Kennard, Terance Mann and Isaiah Hartenstein teaming up to go 17-for-20 from the floor, as they did in the team’s lone win over the Portland Trail Blazers, to make up for their shortcomings.

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