The Los Angeles Clippers were one of the more surprising teams last year. Led by Hall of Fame Coach Doc Rivers, the Clippers found themselves outperforming their fellow LA team in the Lakers and earned a date with the #1 seed, Golden State Warriors, in the first round of the playoffs. With such a strong surge from their move, they attracted the attention of one free agent who left the Toronto Raptors for the Clippers. With Kawhi Leonard also came Paul George and the emergence of what should be a promising youthful team this year. Look for the Clippers to break out this year as their 8th seeded team adds two of the best two way players in the league.
The starting point guard spot will once again belong to Patrick Beverley as breakout guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was traded to the Thunder in the Paul George deal. That leaves Beverely with a clear shot at the PG spot as he’ll look to be one of the toughest and most physical defenders on the team. His shooting numbers aren’t that impressive but for a Clippers team that will operate mainly under their two newcomers, that won’t matter. Beverely will be a defensive anchor and his job will be solely to prevent other guards from scoring with his many antics. He gives Doc Rivers a dependable veteran defender who’s most known for his savvy defense and aggressive attitude.
Starting at the shooting guard position will be Landry Shamet who came over from the Tobias Harris trade last season. While Harris was a great player who was committed to LA, he was on an expiring deal that made sense for the Clippers to ship him out for more youthful talent for their future. Little did they know Shamet would develop into one of their key guards down the stretch and become their one of their starting guards in his second year with the team. However, Shamet won’t be expected to do too much as the Clippers also boast sixth man of the year, Lou Williams, who gets starter level minutes and will be depended on to do the heavy lifting scoring for LA.
For the small forward position, the Clippers welcome one of the biggest free agents this summer in Kawhi Leonard. He’ll immediately become either their first or second option on offense along with Paul George. Coming off a season where he won his second ring, I’d expect a similar season to last year where he averaged 26.6 points, 3.3 assists, and 7.3 rebounds. He’s a superstar in the league who will now try to help the Clippers reach the finals after helping the Raptors last season. Look for the Leonard acquisition to sparkplug the Clippers fan base and for him to lead them for a deep playoff run.
Alongside Leonard will be fellow newcomer Paul George. After everything apparently looked fine in year two in OKC when George even signed a contract extension. However, when Leonard came calling, George demanded a trade that quickly prompted his move to the Clippers. With the trade official, the Clippers were no longer a young, developing team. Now, they’re a legitimate contender. He’ll look to provide LA with a versatile forward who can guard nearly any position and a huge offensive threat who averaged 28 points last year.
Rounding out the Clippers starting unit will be Ivica Zubac who infamously switched his jersey from the Lakers to the Clippers in a midseason trade. He was a productive player for the Lakers who seemingly never gave him much of a chance. With the Clippers, his numbers improved and in 26 games, he averaged 9.4 points and 7.7 rebounds. A full year with the team will certainly help as he’s more accustomed to the offense and playing style of Coach Rivers. However like Shamet, Zubac will likely be shadowed by Montrezl Harrell who got more playing time than him despite coming off the bench.