Although the injury to Kawhi Leonard has essentially written the book on what the Los Angeles Clippers‘ 2021-22 season can be, it’s not the only one making a major impact. Serge Ibaka’s late debut and continuing effort to rediscover himself have also loomed large.
The key difference, though, is that no one can really replace Kawhi — Ibaka’s production has been almost accounted for thanks to strong starts from Ivica Zubac and Isaiah Hartenstein.
Where the former is concerned, Clippers fans probably weren’t shocked when he turned it up a few notches. Zubac has started a ton of games for Los Angeles over the last two-plus years and had always been a steady hand in the pivot. Hartenstein is different, though.
The former second-round pick joined the Clippers on a training camp deal. And he had to beat out Harry Giles, who may have been a high lottery pick three years ago if not for injuries, to earn his spot. Regardless, he has emerged to average 7.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.1 blocks through 21 games while shooting 64.4% from the field.
He has been so good, in fact, that he may be on track not only to get his deal guaranteed but to make more than the Clippers can afford to pay in the offseason.