Its been a tough start to the new year. After a surprising win in Brooklyn to ring in 2022, the Clippers have dropped below.500 and have had difficulty finding consistency with new players entering the health and safety protocols seemingly every other day. The lack of consistency has been most prevalent on offense, where the Clippers cant really run their sets because of insufficient practice time and constantly changing rotations. That means the Clippers is especially reliant on its lead guards, making Reggie Jackson and Eric Bledsoes play a key barometer for the teams success. Bledsoe had three bad games in a row, and Jackson was a league-worst minus-59 over the last four games, so its clear why the Clippers have struggled of late. Lue noted that Jackson was fatigued against Atlanta, and he isnt the only one. This team continues to battle despite the adverse circumstances Norman Powell Jersey, but its fair to wonder how much longer the remaining Clippers can hold the fort, especially with a big road trip on the horizon. This weeks power rankings arent so optimistic. ESPNThis week: 17th | Last week: 12thThe Clippers spoiled Lou Williams return and got a much-needed victory over the Hawks on Sunday. It halted some of the bleeding from a stretch in which the Clippers lost nine of 12 games. The Clippers are slowly getting some bodies back. Besides getting Tyronn Lue back on the bench from health and safety protocols last week, Ivica Zubac was cleared from protocols, while Nicolas Batum also was able to make his way back from injury. But with Paul George , Luke Kennard and Isaiah Hartenstein still out, Lue has his work cut out to keep the Clippers from sinking further out of the playoff race.NBA.comThis week: 16th | Last week: 13thThe Clippers have been feeling the absence of Paul George. They were outscored by 46 points in the second quarter over a three-game losing streak that took them below.500 for the first time since they were 3-4. Neither the Suns nor the Grizzlies shot particularly well against the Clips last week, but they combined for 37 offensive rebounds and 49 second-chance points. The Clippers are the only team that ranks in the bottom five in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage https://www.lacprostore.com/James_Ennis_Iii_Jersey-13, having ranked 12th and fifth last season.But the Clippers got to play the Hawks on Sunday, and while Atlantas issues have been mostly on defense, the Clippers 106-93 win was just the fifth time that the Hawks third-ranked offense has been held under a point per possession. And while helping keep Trae Young in check, Amir Coffey tied a career-high with 21 points on 8-for-12 shooting.The Clippers are 6-9 without George, having slipped from fifth to ninth in the West since he last played. One of those nine losses came against Denver on Dec. 26, when the Clippers struggled to score down the stretch of what was a three-point loss. The Nuggets are back in L.A. on Tuesday.Sports IllustratedThis week: 17th | Last week: 13thSince the new year began, theres been one pretty clear takeaway, albeit with a small-ish sample size: when Eric Bledsoe plays well, the Clips are a much, much better team.It was the case on New Years Day, when he ignited for 27 points on 8-for-12 shooting to help beat the Nets. And it was the case again on Sunday, when he shot 6-for-9, logged 12 points and had seven assists against just one turnover in a victory over the Atlanta Hawks.The common denominator: Los Angeles won both those games. They dropped the other three games this calendar year https://www.lacprostore.com/Marcus_Morris_Jersey-12, in which Bledsoe shot 0-for-3, 4-for-12 and 0-for-4, respectively. Its all hands on deck for the Clips, who await the return of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. But Bledsoes hands seem to carry extra weight in shifting the balance.The AthleticThis week: 13th | Last week: 12thHow many players signed? 4 Biggest takeaway from the hardship era: As much as we could dissect what this team has looked like during this stretch as it just tries to piece together lineups and rotations with so many key players out of the lineup the real heartbeat of this stretch is potentially brightened by the report from Chris Haynes this past week. He said there is growing optimism that Kawhi Leonard could be back this season, as hes apparently ahead of schedule with his ACL rehab. I dont know if you could have gotten better news for the Clippers. Id still be highly cautious about the idea of Leonard coming to save the season, but that report isnt getting out there unless Kawhi is feeling great about where his knee is. We know how reserved hes been with injury rehab in the past, so this all points to great signs for Kawhi and this Clippers season getting better.