NBA Rumors: Can Russell Westbrook supply season-saving spark for LA Clippers?

The LA Clippers need a spark and Russell Westbrook is returning at just the right time.

Los Angeles Clippers v Memphis Grizzlies
Los Angeles Clippers v Memphis Grizzlies / Justin Ford/GettyImages

NBA Rumors: As Russell Westbrook prepares to return, the hope is that he could supply a season-saving spark for the LA Clippers.

Once the LA Clippers began to hit their stride a few games after integrating James Harden into the starting lineup, and then moving Russell Westbrook to a bench role, there was a large portion of the season in which they looked like a legit championship contender in the Western Conference. In fact, all the way up to early February, the Clippers were walking hand-in-hand with the other elite West teams in a battle for the No. 1 seed of the playoffs. However, something shifted for the team at that point.

Since then, it's been everything but smooth sailing for the Clippers. In part due to injuries, the Clippers are just 10-11 since February 7 and have fallen out of the race for the top seed in the Western Conference and are now likely to enter the playoffs as the 4th or 5th seed.

With just three weeks remaining in the regular season, the hope is that the Clippers can build some momentum over these last few games. And one variable that could perhaps spark the Clippers down the stretch is the return of Westbrook from injury. After missing the last few weeks with a broken hand, Westbrook is set to return this week.

Can Russell Westbrook spark the LA Clippers down the stretch?

As the Clippers get a key part of their bench back, perhaps this is something that could end up reigniting the magic that they were riding during the middle portion of the year. And heading into the playoffs in which they will likely have a difficult path before them, this is a team that needs every possible difference-maker healthy. Even though Westbrook is no longer in the prime of his career, there's no question that he does play a valuable role for this team off the bench.

To say that Westbrook is going to solve all of the recent inconsistency issues that the Clippers have faced would be foolish. At the same time, it would be almost equally as foolish to not expect his return to place some sort of factor for the team.

With some big questions on the horizon, it's not overreactionary to believe that the Clippers have to make somewhat of a deep playoff run this season. If they're unable to make a deep playoff run this season, there's no question that this front office is going to have to deeply think about its future, and whether this core is actually good enough to lead the way toward a championship in the future.

And with the way that they've played recently, there's no question that this team needs a season-saving spark if they hope to make any type of noise in the Western Conference playoffs. Whether or not Westbrook could provide that for LA remains to be seen, but at this point, his return may offer the best chance of that happening.

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