Dec
09
2020

Will The Clippers Still Be Contenders?

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With last year’s debacle, Clippers fans are still scratching their heads. No time to sit and bask in the losing ambiance that’s known all too well by Clippers fans; the season starts December 22nd, and that brings new optimism for a hungry organization.

Coaching

The second round collapse led to several off-season changes. They relieved Doc Rivers of his coaching duties while bringing in Tyronn Lue to take the head coaching position. Doc received a lot of criticism for blowing the series lead. Being the only coach to lose three 3-1 series leads, it’s righteously deserving. Lue may not be the better coach but could be the better fit. We’ll have to wait and see the overall grade?

Coaching Change

  • Out~Doc Rivers
  • In~Tyronn Lue

My Grade C-

Roster Changes

They lost the sixth man of the year, Montrezl Harrell, in free agency. Last season, he was a big part of what the Clippers did offensively with a stat line of 18.6 ppg and 7.1 rpg, all while shooting 58 percent from the field. He went to their in-house rival landlord and current champion’s: the Los Angeles Lakers.

To help fill that void they added veteran big man Serge Ibaka. The former Raptor won an NBA championship playing alongside Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard. His defense and ability to space the floor should help Paul George the most.

Driving lanes was one thing that did not exist while playing the Nuggets last year, another thing that didn’t exist was the size. Ibaka brings that to a team that proved to not match up well with the bigs out west. He played well last season with 15.4 ppg and 8.2 rpg in limited minutes.

They lost Landry Shamet. He was a fan favorite with his no-nonsense style of play, shooting capabilities, and defensive effort. He had averages of 9.3 ppg 1.9 apg 1.9 rpg last year for the Clippers. He was packaged in a three-team trade deal that sent him to Brooklyn and brought in Luke Kennard from the Detroit Pistons. This could be the biggest move for a franchise, who desperately wants a conference finals appearance.

He’s a coveted shooter still on his rookie deal. For those fans not familiar with him because of his stint with the Pistons, you got a good guard. He has a career average of 40 percent from downtown. The Pistons also flirted with the idea of giving him minutes at the point due to his playmaking ability. He was a decent passer coming off of dribble handoffs where defenders had to stay on his hip to avoid another pure shot of his.

He also brings a high level of shooting; he’s a guy who doesn’t need to have the ball in his hands to help his team. He can spot to create the space for Kawhi and PG, driving lanes, or he can handle it allowing them to pick their spots offensively. He’s definitely a great fit and could surprise NBA fans that he’ll be playing in the national spotlight that comes with playing in Los Angeles.

Roster Changes

Departures

  • Montrezl Harrell
  • Landry Shamet
  • Joakim Noah

Acquired

  • Serge Ibaka
  • Luke Kennard
  • Nicolas Batum

My Grade: B+

My Prediction

I feel that chemistry was the biggest problem for this team. They have an opportunity to do something special with this core, but they have to address the elephant in the room: stop with the special treatment, and set a standard for all players to follow. That’s what beat this team last year more than the Nuggets; it was their own inability to be this team. You can spend money bringing in all the talent you want; but, if the team doesn’t feel like a team, it’ll never work. They will remain competitive, yet never achieve the ultimate goal; and, that’s the Larry O’Brien trophy.

The rift last year formed a wedge between role players and superstars, and they cannot afford that again. Not to mention that other teams in the conference have gotten signifigantly better. Hurting yourself with chemistry issues will only lead to the same old Clippers mantra, and we, as basketball fans, would like to see more from this team. Overall, I think they’ll be a better team than last year, and we’ll see the western conference finals we all wanted this year: Lakers vs Clippers.

Overall Prediction

  • 48-24
  • 3rd in the West