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NBA: What's the outlook for LA Clippers after playoff exit?

The Los Angeles Clippers had a solid season, finishing 44-38 in the regular season and securing fifth seed in a crowded Western Conference.

That said, their playoff run ended very quickly, as they were easily eliminated in the first round by the fourth-seeded Phoenix Suns.

The Clippers won the first game in that series, but proceeded to lose four games in a row. Now having been sent home, there are several question marks moving forward, including what went wrong this season.

What went wrong this season for LA Clippers?

For a team that rosters Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Russell Westbrook, it was disappointing to see the Clippers get overwhelmed in the playoffs. Part of the problem is that they cannot keep their top two stars healthy.

Both Leonard and George averaged 23.8 points per game in the regular season, but Leonard played just 52 games, while George played 56 games.

In the playoffs George did not play at all and Leonard played only the first two games, where he averaged 34.5 points per game.

Their absence essentially doomed the Clippers, as even with Westbrook averaging 23.6 points per game they did not have enough role players to match up with the Suns over an entire series.

How can LA Clippers improve for next season?

The most obvious way the Clippers can improve their team is through the NBA Draft. They could certainly use a rising star, with Leonard and George not being reliable recently.

The Clippers' roster is loaded with plenty of guards too, so drafting a center may be their best option, as Ivica Zubac is currently the only center on their roster who makes an impact.

Even with that being the case, Zubac averaged just 10.8 points per game in the regular season, which dipped to 9.2 points per game in the playoffs.

He averaged 9.9 rebounds in the regular season and 9.6 rebounds in the playoffs. Given those underwhelming stats, it is clear that the Clippers desperately need someone who can control the paint.

If the Clippers decide not to go with a big man in the NBA Draft, they could instead dip into free agency.

Plenty of players will be available, so they should have plenty of options to try and improve their depth and give their three star players more scoring options.

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Despite being quickly eliminated, the good news is that this year’s playoffs showcased Norman Powell. In five playoff games, he averaged 21.8 points per game.

He scored 42 points in the Game Three loss and 27 in the Game Five loss.

If Leonard and George continue to struggle with injuries moving forward, Powell deserves an increased role because of his performances in the playoffs this season.

Of course, if Leonard and George were playing consistently, Powell may not be able to put up these types of numbers.

However, he clearly stepped up and gave his team plenty of chances to make their series against the Suns much more competitive. 

Los Angeles Clippers season in review

The Clippers had great moments this season, but when it mattered most, they just couldn't get the job done.

George and Leonard being injured was extremely unfortunate, as they had the talent to push the Suns in the first round.

Going forward, the Clippers must work to get both George and Leonard back to full health as their window of competing for a championship appears to be closing.

If they do not start making a push soon, it may be time to start considering moving some of their talent and looking at a rebuild.

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