by Chris Camello (Chris_Camello)
NEW ORLEANS – Paul George will be making his long-awaited debut for the Los Angeles Clippers on their upcoming road trip. George has yet to play a game for his new team this season as he was recovering from off-season surgeries on both shoulders.
This is what Clipper Nation has been waiting for: the insertion of the six-time All-Star into this deep and talented roster that also features fellow All-Star in Kawhi Leonard. The pairing of George and Leonard, elite two-way players, could be the most dynamic in the league.
However, his return creates a few issues that they will have to work through.
The team will essentially be back to square one as far as chemistry. It’s already been an adjustment playing with a ball-dominant star like Leonard; adding George, another star who needs the ball, will take time to get comfortable with.
George’s return will obviously impact the roles and minutes of his new teammates, especially reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams.
While Williams will still run the second unit with Montrezl Harrell, his touches could be limited late in games. Don’t expect to see as many isolation plays or pick-and-rolls from Sweet Lou during crunch time. He will have to play off the ball more often and be more of a stand-still three point shooter.
Mo Harkless, JaMychal Green, and Patrick Beverley could also see their minutes decrease. Although they are great defenders and capable of making threes, it’s highly unlikely all three consistently finish games.
Depending on matchups and effectiveness, head coach Doc Rivers will likely have one of those three join a fourth quarter lineup that includes Leonard, George, Harrell, and Williams.
Rivers was honest about how George’s presence impacting other players’ minutes.
“I don’t really worry about it,” Rivers told Clutch Sports. “It’s a team. Anybody who thinks they’re going to keep their minutes and Paul’s not going to get them is probably not very rational, anyway. That’s why teams work.”
While George’s return creates more depth and lineup options for Rivers, it will take time for him to comfortably adjust his rotations to find the right lineups.
Time will tell how George’s presence impacts the team, but to have another star talent finally joining the Clippers makes them a true title contender.