The LA Clippers are entering the playoffs as the #2 seed in the West. They made a magnificent splash with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George and then when you look at their overall talent, they have a really solid contender on their court. This is a team that is hungry. Since 1980, they have had 23 seasons with a 40% or less winning percentage, they have been the joke to their big brother in LA. But, now, they believe they can win a championship with Leonard and George leading the team. Their offense has been daunting, at 4th in the league, and their defense is better than most teams. Let’s look at why they will win it this season.
All teams shoot to get their dangerous combination on the court – but there always seems to be a combination that just works.
Enter Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
When in form and in full health, Paul George is a top 10 player and a sure winner.
I firmly believe that.
George has been banged up in his past – but he has emerged as a better player than he ever was. He lost everything but 6 games during his 2014 season, then bounced back in 2015 with 23ppg, then in 2018 he averaged 28 ppg and led the NBA at 2.2 steals /game. He has shown astonishing resilience and determination. Then in this last off-season George was grabbed by the Clips, as art of their hard push. George is an excellent creator with the ball in his hands, and is unafraid to put the ball on the floor and take it to the rack. He can create buckets whether attacking the rim, or kicking out to one of their veteran guards, to drop a trey.
George has great confidence in his game, has shown awesome touch from behind the arc, is a deft passer and can clean the glass, on both the defensive and on the offensive side. He is also making threes at just about a 41% clip which is more than enough to keep a defense honest.
No one sees Kawhi Leonard coming. He just quietly shows up and then so many games later, he is either winning MVP’s, or winning championships. Leonard is one of the top 3 players in the NBA right now, hands down. He had a sensational finals against the Warriors last season, when they were supposed to be wrecked, by loading up 28.5ppg and 9.8rpg. He has shown he can walk onto a good team and instantly make it a championship team.
The 6-7 SF has grown, before our eyes, especially over the last 2 seasons, after his San Antonio debacle- into a good shooter, a fierce defender and a smart player who can lead a team. No one seems to pay attention, until you look at the scoreboard and see you’re losing and he has quietly put up 25 and 10. He doesn’t force the game, and is sneaky good. The 28 year old superstar has the absolute heart to lead this team to a title. The Klaw and PG13 feed off of each other and are as dangerous a duo as anyone in the game.
Having major superstars Leonard and George along with a stellar bench is enormous. The Clippers have a great group of bench players that can all hang some quick buckets, and provide excellent relief for the starters. Montrezl Harrell is averaging 18.6ppg off the bench, while Lou Williams is averaging 18.5ppg and 5.7apg off the bench. These guys alone, would likely start on almost every other team in the league.
Williams is a sharpshooting backup SG who has been hitting 36% from deep during the regular season, in 29 minutes per game during his 2019 season. Harrell is one of the best reserve bigs in the league, he is more than a handful and super efficient – as long as he is healthy. They have a huge offensive advantage when they get the production they get from off the bench, they can legitimately go 10 men deep every single night without losing much productivity. Going deep into their rotation and keeping a serviceable player on the court at all times, is huge. And they have that option.
So many have swooned and cheered over the “other LA team” but I don’t think anyone should forget the Clippers, the “cousin Oliver” to the Lakers team. The Lakers made some huge headlines over last off-season with the moves they made – but I still think I trust the Clippers offense more than the Lakers right now.
A winning mindset is needed to have to compete for a title, and the Clippers have that, along with other right pieces in place. The Clippers have a sweet roster, they have a top coach, and they have an impressive bench that can swing things. They have a good case as to why they will win it all this season. I feel that if they can stay healthy – then they have the ability to win it all.