The Clippers had the best offseason of any team in the league as they went from fringe playoff contender to one of the favorites for the NBA title. You can find the full list of NBA Odds to Win NBA Championship on Lineups Betting. Leonard showed the basketball world that he had a legit argument as the best player in the game and George was an MVP finalist this past season. With those two along with Pat Beverley, the Clippers will have a tenacious perimeter defense and could be among the best in defensive rating. It’s championship or bust for the next three seasons for the Clippers which is amazing considering the Clippers have never made it past the semifinals.
From Fringe Playoff Team to Title Contender
The 2018-2019 season was an interesting one, to say the least for the Clippers. After trading away Blake Griffin the season before the Clippers had officially moved on from the Lob City days and were moving in a new direction led by players such as Tobias Harris, Lou Williams, and Danilo Gallinari. That’s when they Clipper began making moves that would help them immensely in the offseason. They would trade away Harris, Avery Bradley, Mike Scott, among others to help land assets and cap flexibility in hopes of landing big-name free agents in the offseason.
The Clippers would go on to be the eighth seed in the playoffs and pushed the top-seeded Golden State Warriors to six games before bowing out of the playoffs. When the offseason approached and free agency began the Clippers had their name attached to many big-name free agents from Kevin Durant to Kawhi Leonard. L.A. had the cap space to land two max-deal free agents but they kept striking out as Durant, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, and Klay Thompson all signed elsewhere. That’s when the Clippers went all-in on the biggest free-agent available, Kawhi Leonard.
Leonard was coming off an NBA Finals MVP and was being sought after by the Clippers rival, the Los Angeles Lakers. It became apparent that the Clippers, Lakers and Toronto Raptors were the three teams vying for Leonard’s services and one of the key points he wanted was to have a team capable of winning a championship. He had talked to players such as Kevin Durant and Paul George on the possibility of teaming up in L.A. and once the Clippers found out that George was available by trade they made their move.
L.A. would get Kawhi Leonard to sign a three-year, $103 million deal with a player option in year-3. Then the Clippers traded Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and several drafts picks to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Paul George.
Those two moves took the Clippers from a team that likely would’ve missed the playoffs this upcoming season to a team that is now viewed as the favorite or one of the favorites. The Clippers have had high expectations before but this should be without a doubt their most talented team in franchise history. The Clippers have never made it past the semifinals in their team history but with the roster this team now has, they should be expected to break that record.
Battle For L.A.
One of the biggest storylines in the upcoming NBA season will be the battle of the two L.A. rivals, the Clippers, and Lakers. The Lakers enter the season having not only LeBron James but now Anthony Davis on their roster. Until the Clippers landed Leonard and George many believed that the Lakers would be the favorite to make it to the Finals out of the Western Conference. However, now that the Clippers have added those two it now appears the next great NBA rivalry could be between the two L.A. teams as both should be title contenders this year.
The NBA recognizes this as well as they made sure to have the NBA season open up with the Lakers and the Clippers playing each other as well as having the two teams play again on Christmas day.
Adding fuel to the rivalry is the fact that the Lakers were viewed as the favorites at various times during free agency to land Kawhi Leonard. The Lakers decided to wait out Leonard’s decision and missed valuable opportunities to land other big-name targets who were signed quickly. Some in the Lakers organization believe that they were being used by Kawhi Leonard to get the Clippers to make the necessary moves for him and that Leonard never was seriously interested in the Lakers.
Ultimately only Kawhi will ever truly know but given that some in the Lakers camp feel that way then it will only add fuel to a rivalry that should be the focal point of the NBA landscape.
To this point in his career, Kawhi Leonard has accomplished quite a bit. Since being drafted in 2011, Leonard has two championships, two Finals MVP’s, five All-Defense selections, two Defensive Player of the Year awards, and three All-NBA selections. He also is responsible for taking down two of the best teams the NBA has seen recently in the Miami Heat and the Golden State Warriors.
At this point, Leonard already has an impressive legacy but if he were to deliver a championship while playing for the Clippers then his legacy becomes even bigger. He helped the Toronto Raptors win their first championship this past season after years of embarrassing playoff defeats. If Leonard is able to bring a title to the Clippers then that would make two teams that he won championships for that many believed they would never reach that pinnacle.
The Clippers and Kawhi Leonard have at least the next three seasons to win a championship but given the talent on this Clippers team, Leonard and company could win multiple championships.
**Kawhi Leonard Image Source used in Featured Image on top of Post: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:1_kawhi_leonard_2019_nba_finals_(cropped).jpg