The Clippers are expecting a full season from Kawhi Leonard and Paul George

When healthy, Kawhi Leonard (2) and Paul George make the Clippers a dangerous team.

NBA basketball returns on October 24. We’re counting down the days like seconds on a shot clock — I mean, that’s what we do. Starting Oct. 1, our writers will list 24 storylines for the 2023-24 NBA season.

A new storyline drops every day. Here it is No. 17:

Is this the year Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the LA Clippers put it all together?

The Clippers have clearly been disappointed in the four years since Leonard signed and traded for George. They are tied for the league’s sixth-best regular-season record (182-126, .591) and have won just three playoff series in those four years. While that was more success than most teams have experienced, it didn’t live up to expectations.

But injuries and lack of availability have largely contributed to the Clippers’ inability to reach their potential. George and Leonard combined for just 118 of their 308 regular season games (38%) and just 24 of their 37 playoff games (65%) over four years. Leonard had an incredible postseason in 2021 (30.4 points per game on 67.9% true shooting percentage) before tearing his ACL in Game 4 of the conference semifinals.

Health and availability will continue to be big questions. George and Leonard are now 33 and 32 years old respectively. Neither could finish the season six months ago, and the Clippers have several other rotation players in their 30s.

But if two stars can stay on the floor, the Clippers can be a contender. In those 108 regular-season games the duo played, they went 83-35 (.703) and outscored their opponents by 13.2 points per 100 possessions in less than 3,000 minutes. Aside from a lackluster start last season, Leonard Gea looked like an MVP candidate.

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Clippers can’t be counted out. They are two of the best two-way players in the league, along with six other players who averaged or better in at least 100 3-point attempts last season. (Their eight total is tied for the league lead.) It’s a big if, but IF If they stay healthy this season, they should be at or near the top of the Western Conference.

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John Schuhman is a senior statistical analyst for You can email him here, find his archive here and Follow him on Twitter.

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