The Los Angeles Clippers were penciled in as Western Conference favorites next to the Golden State Warriors at the 2022-23 season’s dawn. Their Achilles’ heel through the past three seasons has always been their health: can they all be healthy at the right time? The early returns aren’t great, and it’s time to hand out some Clippers grades after a quarter of the season.

Kawhi Leonard has appeared in just five of the Clippers’ 23 games this season so far, spraining his ankle after returning from a 12-game absence. Paul George is dealing with a right hamstring strain and has not played since Nov. 19. LA is still 13-10 despite the injury woes, but the team has a negative point differential and has been mediocre overall.

Here are our grades for the Clippers at the quarter mark of the season.

Paul George

Paul George has caught slack for his lack of leadership as the star player over the years, but he has been the commanding force behind this team’s 13-10 start. In his last 11 games before injury, George was putting up 25.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 4.5 assists a game on 49/42/82 Splits. Elite numbers with top-tier efficiency, that is All-Star material right there.

George’s versatility gives head coach Tyronn Lue room to experiment. The All-Star has spent 21% of his minutes at the power forward spot this season — his length and defensive ability allow the Clippers to play small and spread the floor, the style of play they thrive in and tend to fall back to when the playoffs come around. There is not much to nitpick from George’s game this season, but he needs to get back on the court soon.

Grade: A

Kawhi Leonard

It’s tough to grade Kawhi Leonard when he has played just five games this season and started three of them. We saw shades of his old self in the season opener when he immediately canned two mid-range fadeaways after checking in during the second quarter against the Lakers:

We know what he can do, but Leonard has just missed too much time to give him a legitimate grade. If he can return to full form, this will be a scary Clippers team, but it feels like Leonard is far from playing 30 minutes a night.

Grade: N/A

Ivica Zubac

The big man turned a lot of heads when he popped off for 31 points and 29 rebounds on 14-of-17 shooting against the Indiana Pacers. He has been everything a coach wants in a big man — efficient offense with staunch defensive production.

Opposing players are shooting 20.9% less than expected against him at the rim, and he allows the lowest FG% against at the rim in the league. The Clippers hold the fifth-best defensive rating and Zubac is a large reason for that — he could be in for an All-Defensive Team selection if he can keep at this level of defensive play. He continues to get better every season and could be the center of the future for this Clippers team.

Grade: A

John Wall

It is not easy for a former star to slot into a bench role. We saw how Carmelo Anthony and DeMarcus Cousins struggled with the transition, and both find themselves jersey-less this season. It was a rough road back for John Wall, who was out of commission for over a year, but he has carved out himself a legitimate role on this Clippers team, one that has lacked a true point guard in past years.

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Wall leads the team in assists while playing just over 22 minutes a game. He still shows flashes of his old self, speeding by defenders to the cup while dishing to Zubac down low or the variety of shooters the Clippers possess. He’s another guy who needs to stay healthy in order for this team to make a deep playoff run, as his veteran presence is invaluable.

Grade: A-

Tyronn Lue

Tyronn Lue has been touted as one of the best coaches in the league by his peers. His in-game adjustments are elite, and his ability to read a playoff series and adjust on the fly is why he is so respected. He was not just LeBron James’ ball boy on that championship Cleveland Cavaliers team, playing a major role in the comeback against the Golden State Warriors.

Lue has this Clippers team competing on the defensive end, mostly sticking to his switching coverage while experimenting with Zubac both in a drop as well as at the level of the screen. Offensively, the team falls flat without Leonard, as they hold the third-worst offensive rating in the league.

Somehow, they are still 13-10 despite being lost offensively and averaging the least amount of points per game in the entire league. They are giving teams hell on the other end, making each game a dogfight, a testament to Lue’s ability to fire up his guys despite all the injuries.

Grade: B+