LA Clippers report card: Strong start, but defensive lapses hurt

Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Beverley, LA Clippers (Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images)
Kawhi Leonard, Patrick Beverley, LA Clippers (Photo by Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images) /

The LA Clippers have started the season well, but defensive lapses and Keowhi Leonard’s load management has cost them in the wins column.

The LA Clippers have turned in a 26-12 record as they are approaching the midpoint of the regular season. They have been as advertised as they are currently in the fourth spot in the Western Conference, in position to get a higher seed with a couple more wins. Lets take a look at their progress so far in the season.

The Clippers’ two off-season acquisitions, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, have played rather well with Kawhi averaging 25.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 5.1 assists and George averaging 23.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 3.7 assists. With their defensive prowess in addition to their versatility, both superstars have left a good imprint on the Clippers so far about midway into the season. Furthermore, they have already defeated the Lakers twice this year.

However, if there were an item to criticize about the Clippers, it has to be the load management for Leonard, who has missed 10 games due to the practice. League wide, there have been other players and also even reporters sounding off on Kawhi’s load management, wondering why he has been missing games. The Clippers seem to be okay with it despite the criticism as they have seen what load management did for Kawhi and the Raptors in the playoffs last year.

The effect of the management for Kawhi will not truly be seen until the playoffs start. That will be the ultimate judgment for the Clippers.

Will the bench stars keep up their high level of play until the end of the regular season?

The Clippers have one of the bench units in the league and spearheading that attack are Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell. Both players average just over 19 points per game and are integral parts of the Clippers attack as their use of the pick and roll with one another is efficient.

Harrell averages just about 7.3 rebounds per game, and Williams is their leading assist man with 6.3 assists. The Clippers have rely a lot on these two along with their other bench players when Leonard is on load management and other players sit out due to injury.

The Clippers should manage these two somewhat or limit their minutes towards the end of the season that way they will be fresh for the playoffs. However, for now while their seeding is uncertain these two will more than likely push for heavier minutes in order to secure their team win and a better seed.

Clippers grade so far

I would give the Clippers a B+ for their mid season report card so far. They have won their fair share of games, even defeating the Lakers twice. Their stars have been their stars as well.

However, the only reason they cannot get an A at the moment is because they have had one too many letdowns defensively during the season and seem to struggle when Leonard is load-managed. Furthermore, they are not the No. 1 seed, as the Lakers hold that distinction at the current moment.