After finishing the regular-season with a 47-25 record, the Clippers entered the NBA playoffs as the 4th seed in the Western Conference. Following a grueling seven-game series against the Dallas Mavericks in the first round, they faced the Utah Jazz in the Western Conference semifinals.
Tragedy struck in Game Four when their superstar Kawhi Leonard left the game. However, the team rallied to beat the Jazz in six games to reach the Western Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history. They fell to the Phoenix Suns in a hard-fought series. But the Clippers had a great playoff run, considering their primary superstar's absence.
Leonard's injury may see him missing a good part of the 2021-22 season as well. Do the LA Clippers have what it takes to make things happen without him?
LA Clippers' roster moves so far in the 2021-22 NBA season
The LA Clippers have enjoyed a relatively successful campaign under head coach Tyronn Lue. Having established a solid core, the Clippers made minimal changes to their roster.
In terms of noteworthy moves, the Clippers saw the addition of Eric Bledsoe as part of a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies. The Clippers bade farewell to long-time franchise favorite Patrick Beverely. They also parted ways with Rajon Rondo and Daniel Oturu, who were packaged in the trade for Bledsoe. The Clippers signed forward Justise Winslow as a free agent early in the free agency window.
The LA Clippers did a good job of retaining some key players going into the 2021-22 season. They re-signed Reggie Jackson and Nicolas Batum, who played key roles in the 2021 playoffs. Serge Ibaka also exercised his player option to join the Clippers for another season.
The most important move the Clippers have made, though, is the extension of their superstar Kawhi Leonard's contract. He agreed a new four-year deal, which ensures that the franchise's roster will have a solid duo of superstars for years to come.
Important storylines for the LA Clippers' training camp
#1 The contribution of Eric Bledsoe in the point guard position
Eric Bledsoe has been around different teams throughout the course of his career. Having played the 2020-21 season with the New Orleans Pelicans, the player and franchise parted ways in a trade that sent him to the Memphis Grizzlies first.
He eventually signed with the LA Clippers. The Bledsoe trade could prove to be a massive win for the franchise. Eric Bledsoe is an experienced veteran point guard who can play at both ends of the floor.
He is a definite upgrade as a playmaker and offensive threat on Patrick Beverely. But the question arises if he can make up for the vocal leadership and hustle of Beverley.
In acquiring Bledsoe, the Clippers addressed a significant portion of their woes at the point guard position. However, he is known to wane as a player come playoff time, which raises some concerns. So his performances will be something to keep an eye on.
#2 Paul George and Reggie Jackson as the primary duo for the LA Clippers
With Reggie Jackson's surge in the playoffs, the Clippers received their third solid scoring option in their overall rotation. While Kawhi Leonard's injury had him sidelined for the rest of the playoffs, it provided a glimpse of how the Clippers would fare early in the 2021-22 NBA season.
Paul George and Reggie Jackson played at an extremely high level in the playoffs. Beating the top-seeded Utah Jazz, the Clippers seemed like a competitive side in the Western Conference Finals.
Paul George showed sparks of his Indiana Pacers days, as he picked up the offensive load left by Leonard. George has admitted that he wouldn't find this energy in any other locker room. So Clippers fans can hope that the duo of George and Jackson continue to produce at a high rate in the 2021-22 NBA season.
#3 Emergence of Terance Mann
Potentially the most exciting development for the LA Clippers in the 2020-21 season was the growth of Terance Mann as a player. Having only completed his sophomore season, Mann has started showing signs of a future star for the Clippers.
Although his numbers don't reflect his potential, Mann averaged seven points and 3.6 rebounds per game while shooting at 50.9% from the field and 41.3% from beyond the arc. He did that on only 19 minutes per game.
Terance Mann showed sparks of brilliance during the season. His most dominant performance came against the Utah Jazz in the playoffs. Recording 39 points while shooting at 70% from the three-point range, Mann helped secure the win and the series for the LA Clippers.
With Mann likely to see more minutes in the 2021-22 season, his development as a player is something that shouldn't be overlooked.
Predicted starting lineup for the LA Clippers heading into the 2021-22 NBA season
While the Clippers' roster hasn't seen many changes, Kawhi Leonard is a glaring omission. While there is no set timeline for his return, the LA Clippers will hope for a mid-season return for their superstar.
Although they would prefer him to return after a complete recovery, the Clippers could possibly have to look at making a playoff run without their primary superstar. With Paul George picking up the slack offensively and Reggie Jackson stepping into a significant role, here is the potential starting lineup for the LA Clippers:
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Point Guard - Eric Bledsoe | Shooting Guard - Reggie Jackson | Small Forward - Paul George | Power Foward - Marcus Morris Sr. | Center - Ivica Zubac.