Los Angeles Clippers star Paul George is approaching the 2022-23 NBA season with a sense of purpose.
The seven-time All-Star told ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk, "I'm more focused than I've ever been" and that winning a championship is the clear goal.
NBA on ESPN @ESPNNBA
Paul George is all the way locked in for this season 😤 <br><br>"I am more focused than I've ever been. You talked about locked in, I am locked in to this year." - via <a href="https://twitter.com/NotoriousOHM?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NotoriousOHM</a> <a href="https://t.co/UklwGNhNSt">pic.twitter.com/UklwGNhNSt</a>
To term it a failure would be harsh, but there's no question the Clippers have yet to reach the ambitions they laid out when they signed George and Kawhi Leonard. A trip to the 2021 Western Conference Finals is the deepest Los Angeles has gone in the postseason since the pair arrived.
The 2021-22 campaign was a mulligan for the organization, though. Leonard missed the entire year because of a partial ACL tear, and George was limited to 31 games in large part because of an elbow injury.
Now that both players are back healthy, anything short of a conference title will likely be a disappointment.
"Leonard and George together have proved to work, and this is the best group of quality role players around them since the star duo was assembled in 2019," Bleacher Report's Greg Swartz wrote of the Clippers in September. "Health is obviously an issue, but a full-strength Clippers squad could be the NBA's best team."
Oddsmakers agree. Los Angeles has the third-best title odds (+700; bet $100 to win $700) along with the Brooklyn Nets at FanDuel.
What the Clippers achieve or don't achieve will be a reflection of George as well. The 32-year-old's talent has never been in doubt, but he has yet to enjoy the kind of singular playoff run that defines stars of his caliber. He's perhaps one of the five or six best active players in the NBA still in search of a ring.
The pressure is squarely on George to deliver because there won't be any excuses if the Clippers once again don't hit their expectations.