The biggest moves in free agency, a new owner, and a bright future. The L.A Clippers were the hottest team in the 2019 free agency. After signing reigning champion Kawhi Leonard, luring him away from Toronto, and making a trade for Paul George the Clippers had all the momentum going into the 2020 season. A matchup of the two L.A teams in the Western Conference Finals seemed almost inevitable. Even after a global pandemic, shutdown season, and bubble playoffs the Clippers still looked like title favorites. They had a 3-1 lead on the Nuggets in the Conference Semis, and then it all went downhill. Losing a 3-1 lead, Pandemic P, and the Clippers became the jokes of the NBA. This season the Clippers have a new coach and group of players out for revenge.
In a shortened season, the L.A Clippers finished with a 47-25 record which was good enough for the 4th spot in the Western Conference. One of the biggest changes this season was the absence of the rest days. Kawhi Leonard seemed to have mastered the art of rest days in Toronto, as the Clippers tried to copy that same blueprint in 2019. This approach backfired on the Clippers. Fans were not happy about marquee games losing value when Kawhi decided not to play, and players inside the Clippers had mixed feelings about the special treatment Leonard was getting. New head coach Ty Lue has been able to walk the fine line of resting Leonard, but not angering both the fans and players. This has led to a much more cohesive unit that is maximizing value from each player.
With better chemistry comes better looks, especially from three. The Clippers have two outstanding shot creators in Leonard and George, and the rest of the team can knock down shots from behind the arc. As a team the Clippers shot 40% from three, which is one of the best in the league.
This three point shooting gives L.A a top 6 offense that can get hot at any time. This new offensive approach models the recent trend of three point shooting and high octane offense. The Clippers, unlike most teams, have a really good defense headlined by their star wings.
L.A is a city of stars, and the Clippers are no different. PG and Kawhi are at the top of the headlines, but the role players for L.A are making the biggest differences this season. Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris both averaged double digits, and 8 players other than PG and Kawhi have been shooting 40+% from three. The Clippers have so many different guys that can score, both at the three point line and off the dribble. This depth is what made so many people believe that the Clippers could beat a Lakers team with Lebron and AD. The rest of the team has shown up, and now this team has a top offense and defense. The Clippers are finally becoming the team that many people thought would win the title.
Top Image: Tamberlyn Richardson/Cappers Pick