A lot has transpired in just seven games of Clippers basketball that have caused many to reassess their preseason opinion of the team. The majority of the takeaways are negatives — appropriately so, given the record to begin the season and how visibly unpleasant the performances have been at times. However, there are more than a few noteworthy positives to take from the start of the Clippers’ 2022 season and I’m here to talk about them.


The offense has been bad and there’s just no getting around that. But for as bad as it’s been, the defense has been mostly pretty good, performing admirably through the first couple weeks of the season. The Clips have the seventh-best defensive rating in the league and are allowing the eighth-fewest points per game. The way they’ve gotten to those rankings has been odd. Ivica Zubac has played mostly a Marcin Gortat type of starter role before being relegated to the bench, Luke Kennard is logging nearly 28.0 minutes per outing, and Reggie Jackson is playing about 35.0 per. It doesn’t really make sense when you consider who the individual defenders are, but it’s worked so far. The opponents will get better as the schedule moves ahead, but that’s no reason to undermine the Clippers’ success on that end of the court thus far. And who knows, maybe the league-wide shooting doesn’t positively regress towards the mean. 

The Clips were forced to dig deep on defense during the first six games in order to have a chance at staying competitive, given how bleak the offense was. My worry is that as the Clippers finally find their way on offense it’ll cause some slippage and nonchalant ways on defense, which we saw in Wednesday night’s win against Minnesota. However, this shouldn’t be a lasting issue with a veteran team, so hopefully the defense will continue to be good moving forward. 

Luke’s Ascension

Speaking of shooting, Luke Kennard has thus far been what the front office had hoped he’d be last year, but late is better than not at all. The staff has mostly ditched the idea of running Luke through point guard actions and has instead simplified his role into being an all-purpose, versatile shooter — a change that slowly happened over the course of the latter part of last season. Now, the volume has been increased due to the many absences the team has already had to deal with to this point. Luke’s shooting more 3-pointers than he ever has before on a per-game basis and has sustained his efficiency in the process.

However, Luke’s ascension as one of the more important players on the team isn’t possible without his playability on the defensive end. He’s earned the third-best defensive rating on the team through seven games and appears to be less of a liability on that side of the ball. Take that however you’d like, but it’s a far cry from his near team-worst rating a season ago. And if the numbers aren’t selling you the eye-test should be. Interestingly enough, his activity and situational awareness on defense are reminiscent of how Lou Williams performed last year — not necessarily great, but much improved. He’s been far from a problem in games against some of the game’s toughest guards, but I’m reserving my full assessment on Luke’s defense until I see teams start teams purposely attacking him as a part of their gameplan. Still, it’s been a nice surprise for the Clippers through seven games of the 2022 season.

Ty Lue Continues to Encourage

The most important thing that I’ve taken notice of so far is undoubtedly Ty Lue’s unwillingness to flinch. The offensive struggles through the first six games of the season were well documented, but Lue stuck to his gut and saw that the process of the offense was a good one despite the end result. No starting lineup changes were made and neither were any drastically noticeable gameplan changes. Rather, he stuck with his guns and trusted his historically-great team full of shooters from a season ago to regain its touch on the offensive end.

“If we make shots, we’ll get up to speed because now there’s gonna be more driving lanes, more time to attack. But if you’re not making shots, I wouldn’t guard us either. When we start making shots, I think a lot of things will change.”

A lot of things did change on Wednesday night when the shots fell, and suddenly, the dreadful-shooting 2022 Clippers are one of the top-12 3-point shooting teams in the NBA this season.

It’s easy to recognize the negatives when things are going poorly and the positives when they’re going well, but let’s all pay attention to what’s consistent over the next few weeks regardless of the scoreboard. Hopefully, by then, the team will be at relatively full strength so we can more realistically observe what to make of the team come April.

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