3 concerns for the LA Clippers’ 2021-22 NBA season
The LA Clippers have an exciting season ahead of them despite the absence of Kawhi Leonard to start the 2021-22 NBA season. Paul George is set to have an MVP-caliber season with all their free agents re-signed and roster re-tooled around him.
Still, the Clippers do have some concerns heading into the new campaign. Here are a few things to watch this season:
1. Jam-packed Schedule
There’s no other way to put it. The LA Clippers got royally screwed with their 2021-22 NBA regular season schedule. The Clippers will have five sets of five games in seven nights, which is essentially a back-to-back set, a day off, a game, a day off, and another back-to-back set. That’s the most in the league by a mile.
5 games in 7 nights breakdown.
5 sets: LAC
4 sets: 0
3 sets: CHI, CLE, DAL, HOU, POR, SAS
2 sets: DET, ORL, SAC
1 set: ATL, GSW, LAL, MEM, MIA, MIL, MIN, NYK, OKC, PHI, PHX, UTA, WAS
0 sets: BOS, BKN, CHA, DEN, IND, NOP, TOR
— Justin Russo (@FlyByKnite) August 20, 2021
The team with the most after the Clippers is a multi-team tie for three five-in-sevens.
The Clippers received the most because they get no priority scheduling when it comes to home games at Staples Center. They get whatever remaining days the Los Angeles Kings and Los Angeles Lakers do not take. Unfortunately, it goes beyond just basketball season. The Clippers play home games in the 2021 calendar year on five of a possible 10 Sundays as well as six of a possible 10 Mondays, both of which are big days and time-slots for the NFL.
The Clippers backs are against the walls when it comes to their schedule this season. Head coach Tyronn Lue and the rest of the staff will likely devise a plan throughout the games and practices to find rest for his players over the six month season.
2. Potential Injuries
With the jam-packed schedule comes the increased risk of injury. We saw exactly that when the Clippers were forced to play a postseason without much time between games.
Kawhi Leonard suffered a partially torn ACL that required offseason surgery. Ivica Zubac suffered a sprained MCL. Marcus Morris’ knee tendinitis flared up again. Nicolas Batum was gassed by the time the Suns series came around. Paul George had been managing a bone edema injury that could only heal with rest.
The Clippers needed this offseason to recover from that brutal stretch, but their regular season schedule is something that could lead to injuries. As it stands, the Clippers will have three players age 32 and five players age 31. Whether it’s an injury that pops up or a simple day off to manage the workload, that could mean a lot of playing time for guys like Luke Kennard and Terance Mann, two of the Clippers’ 10 players currently age 25 or younger.
The Clippers saw incredible bounce-back seasons from guys like Reggie Jackson and Nicolas Batum during the 2020-21 campaign. The postseason even saw an incredible run by Jackson as the team’s second-leading scorer once Kawhi Leonard went down. Batum also
Now, there’s no reason to believe that either Jackson or Batum will regress this season, but without Kawhi Leonard, there’s a chance both players will be asked to do more on both ends of the floor.
The Clippers had nine players shoot over 40-percent from beyond the arc, not including Kawhi Leonard at 39.8 percent and Patrick Beverley at 39.7 percent. Marcus Morris was a 49.8 percent catch-and-shoot three-point shooter, Luke Kennard a 45.1 percent shooter, and Reggie Jackson a 45.3 percent shooter. Can those players shoot at the same efficiency when they’ll likely be tasked with a little more on both ends?
It’s possible, but there’s also a real chance that guys who were hot last year come down to earth just a bit as everyone tries to adjust to the changes.