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3 Los Angeles Clippers players with the most to prove in ’22-’23

Joaquin Ruiz

The Los Angeles Clippers are one of the NBA’s best teams heading into the upcoming season. Atop the majority of power rankings, Los Angeles features a combination of superstars and experience that bodes well for their title aspirations.

A large credit for the current hopes of the Clippers is owed to star swingmen, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Together, they’ve established a tourist attraction for elite players around the league and transformed the game’s former laughing stock into a top contender.

As a result, the Clippers have been able to acquire the best of the best in terms of role players — and as of recently, a former All-Star in John Wall. Outside of “213,” there will be an everlasting competition for playing time under head coach Ty Lue and his staff as the roster is oozing with talent.

Related: 5 best games on Los Angeles Clippers schedule this season

Let’s take a look at coach Lue’s options on Los Angeles’ tentative depth chart.

Los Angeles Clippers 2022-2023 depth chart V1

StartersBenchReserves
PG – John WallPG – Reggie JacksonG – Luke Kennard
SG – Paul GeorgeSG – Norman PowellG – Jason Preston
SF – Kawhi LeonardSF – Terance MannF – Brandon Boston Jr.
PF – Marcus MorrisPF – Nico BatumF – Amir Coffey
C – Ivica ZubacPF/C – Robert CovingtonC – Moses Brown

The Clippers are stacked at every position. Everybody brings something to the table — shooting, defense, playmaking, and overall versatility. Unfortunately, not everyone will see the floor consistently due to not enough minutes being available.

With that said, there will be select players who must prove their contributions are necessary for the Clippers to be champions.

Marcus Morris

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Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The veteran forward is on the hot seat this season. Morris, although a likely starter throughout the beginning of Los Angeles’ schedule, will compete with other forwards Robert Covington and Nico Batum for floor time.

Averaging 13.7 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game as a Clipper, Morris has been a solid complementary bucket alongside Leonard and George — also guarding more physical players to lessen the pains on his star teammates. However, the NBA is a business, and the current roster begs the question: is Morris still needed on this team?

The answer is complex. Morris is no longer a “need” on the Clippers. The team has Norman Powell and John Wall to take attention away from their stars on offense, Covington to defend and shoot spot-up threes, and Luke Kennard to space the floor. Morris, though a decent scorer, won’t be asked to carry any offensive loads by any means. When also factoring in his defensive decline, the case for the ex-Kansas Jayhawk doesn’t get any better.

On the other hand, he does bring depth and experience into the equation. Morris has been a Clipper throughout the bubble woes, Western Conference Finals appearance, and an injury-riddled 2021-2022 season. That’s important when considering Los Angeles’ injury history and constant reliance on lower-tiered scorers and players.

It’s uncertain whether executives Lawrence Frank and Michael Winger have Morris in the upcoming season’s plans, but it’s safe to say that just a season removed from a 47.3% clip from three doesn’t make him a negative on the court. Expect Morris to share minutes at power forward and center, as his versatility compared to Covington and Batum will be crucial to his role in Los Angeles.

Terance Mann

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Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Providing bursts of energy and practically everything, the guard-forward hybrid in Terance Mann has become a fan favorite for the Clippers. Since entering the league in 2019, Mann has been the youthful element Los Angeles generally lacks — being a high flyer, playmaker, and lately, a steady shooter (36.5% from 3).

Mann is a fun player. He took a mini leap to average 10.8 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game last season. However, many expected him to have a “breakout” year in ’21-22, considering Leonard missed the entire season with his torn ACL. That’s where his need to prove himself comes in, as he needs to elevate into a sure piece for Los Angeles’ title hopes and future.

His situation is different from Morris’s, as the former Florida State Seminole has less competition at his position(s) and holds a role with less pressure on the bench. Mann will back up Leonard at small forward, but he’ll also see time as a primary ball-handler, spot-up shooter, and in the dunker spot.

Entering his fourth season, Mann must prove to himself and the club’s coaches that he emits confidence while on the floor. At times, Mann can be hesitant, specifically with his jump shot. Addressing his hesitance will do wonders for himself and the team, stretching the floor even more.

Mann’s development up to this point has been a success, especially as the 48th pick in the draft. But, there’s another gear he can reach — and there’s no better chance for him to reach it than now, alongside the best roster in the NBA.

John Wall

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Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Ironically, John Wall is one of the more popular, decorated Clippers without playing a single game for them. The five-time All-Star returns to the NBA after a year-long hiatus and is in a battle with incumbent guard Reggie Jackson for the starting gig. Wall’s story is interesting. He’s more than a proven player, a great fit in Los Angeles, and is hungry to win. Yet, he brings with him question marks due to the fact that he hasn’t been fully healthy in some time.

The last time fans saw Wall play a full season, he was top-2 in assists and steals per game while averaging 23.1 points and 4.2 assists every night. Unfortunately, that was over four years ago. Since then, Wall suffered multiple tears in his Achilles and has faced severe mental hurdles with the loss of loved ones. Just recently, Wall discussed his character development and even his past consideration of suicide.

Now, Wall appears to be in a great place, both physically and mentally. He’s been taking part in the famous “Rico Hines” runs and has been showing out alongside friend and Clippers teammate, PG13. There isn’t much reasoning as to why Wall has a lot to prove this season, other than that it’s been a while. Most believe that the Kentucky product still has gas left in the tank, but no one truly knows.

Wall signed with the Clippers to rejuvenate his career while simultaneously competing for a title. He’s been doubted for years since suffering his injuries and is coming off a season where he was told to stay home from work. For the veteran, he has no choice but to perform well. His career and team depend on it.