The Los Angeles Clippers came into the 2019-2020 NBA season as one of the NBA title favorites. Despite the season be postponed from March until the end of July the Clippers still remained as the favorite or one of the favorites to emerge from the Orlando bubble with the championship.
However, that would not be the case as the Clippers suffered an embarrassing collapse in the second round against the Denver Nuggets.
Some would argue that this collapse was worst as the Clippers had several opportunities to put this series away and failed each time. Between the expectations and how this series vs Denver played out the Clippers now enter an offseason full of questions about how to improve this team and make it the title contender many thought it would be.
What started out as a promising season has quickly become a massive disappointment and now the franchise must figure out how to make the Clippers better this offseason or risk losing Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.
The Clippers had a 3-1 lead over the Denver Nuggets and in each of the next three games they had leads of 12 or more points. In both games 5 and 6, LA had double-digit leads in the third quarter and in game 7 they watched a 12 point lead in the second quarter dwindle down to two in the final four minutes of that quarter.
In games 5 and 6, the Clippers duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George was solid. However, game 7 was a much different story.
- Game 5 they combined for 62 points on 20-42 shooting
- Game 6 they combined for 58 points on 17-39 shooting
- Game 7 they combined for 24 points on 10-38 shooting
The Clippers supporting cast was missing in those first two games as game 5 saw only two other Clippers score over six points and none scored more than 12 points. To follow it up in game 6 the Clippers (sans Leonard and George) saw again only two players score over five points and no one scored more than 14. In the series final game, the Clippers had three players score in double-figures but it wasn’t enough to overcome the atrocious shooting night of their two stars.
LA had the chances they needed to put the series to bed but they couldn’t get any production from anyone other than Leonard or George in games 5 and 6. Then in game 7, the team as a whole looked bad especially after seeing a 12 points lead get reduced to 2 in the final four minutes of the second quarter. That run felt like the others that occurred in games 5 and 6 when the Nuggets would start hitting everything and the Clippers looked lost trying to keep their double-figure lead from being erased.
The Clippers were supposed to have a bench that was among the best in the NBA but in the playoffs, the Clippers bench was anything but that. They struggled mightily defensively and players such as Montrezl Harrell and Lou Williams struggled at times to score.
The Clippers will enter the offseason looking to upgrade their roster. They have several areas they could address such as the need for a playmaker at point guard or upgrade the bench unit’s defense.
LA also has several free agents such as Harrell, Marcus Morris, Reggie Jackson, and potentially JaMychal Green. The Clippers will likely bring back Morris and possibly Harrell. Green is someone they will want to keep but he has a player option and could opt out if he feels he could find a team to pay him more than the $5MM he is scheduled to make.
The Clippers also have to deal with the fact that no one knows what to expect of the NBA’s salary cap for next season so it could be easier to re-sign their players than go after free agents.
Whatever the team decides will need to be the correct choice as the Clippers are very much on the clock in the same way that Milwaukee is with superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo.
2021 Offseason Fears:
As mentioned above the Clippers are on the clock because both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George could leave after next season as free agents as both have player options for the following season. Given that they gave up for George it would be a massive failure to lose both stars after only two seasons and possibly no titles.
The Clippers as a franchise would likely be set back for several seasons and it would be tough building a contender for their new arena with limited draft capital.
LA will be talked about all offseason and most of will not be positive but if the Clippers can upgrade their team this offseason then there is no reason they can’t win the title next season. However, anything less than a title and LA will be sweating with the risk of losing its two stars for nothing.