The Los Angeles Clippers were the biggest winners of the 2019 Free Agency period. Steve Ballmer’s team was able to snatch away and sign Kawhi Leonard from the Toronto Raptors after he helped them win their first-ever NBA title in 2019 while winning the 2019 NBA Finals MVP award. The Clippers were also able to forge a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder that brought All-Star Paul George to Hollywood.
With a superstar pairing, the Clippers were the preseason betting favorites to win the NBA title. However, the team started on a rough patch with Leonard missing games due to load management and George suffering minor injuries. But as the two got healthier in the middle of the season, the Clippers started to rise in the ranks and were the 2nd best team in the Western Conference when play was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Clippers are one of the 22 teams in the NBA restart. With homecourt advantage eliminated because the event will be played solely at Disney World, the Clippers are one of the favorites to win the title because of their deep rotation and talent level.
Los Angeles Clippers Season Summary
The Los Angeles Clippers couldn’t live up to their preseason billing but this wasn’t entirely their fault as injuries prevented them from playing as a complete group early in the season. Paul George missed the first 11 games of the season while Kawhi Leonard didn’t play back to back games due to load management. Patrick Beverley also sat out games due to injury and the Clippers added key players Marcus Morris and Reggie Jackson during the midseason. But when they got their pieces together right before the suspension of games, the Clippers were humming and they climbed the team standings, ending as the 2nd seed in the West when play was suspended.
There is no question that if we talk about talent, the Clippers have the most talented lineup in the NBA this season.
Leonard and George have plenty of help on board. They didn’t just have Beverley, Morris, and Jackson. The team also had the two best bench players in the league in Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell. Williams and Harrell competed for the 2019 Sixth Man of the Year award with Williams winning the trophy, his third overall. Harrell meanwhile, is having his best year ever with averages of 18.6 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.
With the firepower they possessed, the Clippers were content to be trailing the Lakers in the Western Conference team standings. After all, they led their cross-town rivals in their 2019-20 head to head series 2-1. A lot of people are talking about the Bucks and Lakers as the top favorites to win the NBA title this year but don’t count out the Clippers. This team still has plenty of room to grow and given that they’ve been given extra time to jell, they will be a dangerous team in the playoffs and a serious challenger for the NBA title.
The Clippers had just gotten healthy when the season was stopped. Nevertheless, the break should’ve given Kawhi Leonard and Paul George more than enough time to re-charge. George started the season on the injured list and missed time in between with various injuries. Both George and Leonard opted to sit out games due to load management and this three-month break will get both stars back in 100% condition. With their superstars playing together, the Clippers were a tough team and won six out of their last seven games, losing only to the Lakers during that period.
Their main concern right now is sixth man supreme Lou Williams who has indicated that he is unsure about playing in the NBA’s restart. Williams has been actively involved in the ongoing social movements that are aimed at combating systemic racism. If Williams doesn’t play, then the Clippers won’t only be missing his offense but they will also be without one of their finishers. While Williams comes off the bench, he is usually one of the players that close out games for the Clippers. Although they still have Leonard and George, who are their primary players, Lou Williams is an integral part of the team.
While Williams is questionable, the Clippers defense could get an added boost with Joakim Noah. The former All-Star center and Defensive Player of the Year was with the Clippers on a 10-day contract last March. However, he wasn’t able to suit up for the Clippers because the league went into hiatus. The latest reports say that Noah will sign with the Clippers and if that is correct, he will strengthen their frontline. Noah’s best years may be behind him but his experience and defense will surely play a factor in the playoffs.
Odds and Outlook
The Clippers are currently a +300 to win the 2020 NBA titles and a +200 to win the Western Conference. Both odds rank next to the Lakers in the latest odds boards. The Clippers trail the Lakers by 5.5 games and if they don’t catch up, they will most probably end up playing the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs, then the Nuggets of the Rockets in Round 2, before an anticipated Conference Finals showdown with the Lakers. The Clippers were 25-7 away from the Staples Center this season so this is a team that doesn’t have a problem winning on the road. That’s important because there are no home games in the NBA’s Disney Bubble.
If the NBA sticks to its earlier announcement that the new schedule will not deviate much from the original one, then the Clippers will play.
- Brooklyn Nets (twice)
- New Orleans Pelicans
- Dallas Mavericks
- Denver Nuggets
- Phoenix Suns
- Indiana Pacers
- Oklahoma City Thunder
Note that their schedule doesn’t include the Bucks and Lakers so the Clippers have a very good one for them, although it’s still not an easy schedule.
The Clippers need to out-win the Lakers by six games and given that there are only eight regular-season games during the ranking phase, it may be hard to catch up with their L.A. rivals and they must focus instead on holding off the Nuggets and Jazz who are withing three games of them in the team standings. But for as long as the team is healthy heading to Orlando, the Clippers will always be one of the favorites to win because of their talent level.
This may be the best time to bet on the Clippers. The Bubble format forces teams to play in one venue and because of this, homecourt advantage is out of the story. The NBA regular season is all about playing for homecourt advantage in the postseason. Now that the homecourt advantage is taken away, the Clippers are believed to be on equal footing with the Bucks and Lakers.
Doc Rivers’ team was seen as just using the regular season to build chemistry and to get everyone healthy. I think that the long break has served the purpose of the team getting healthy. Now the challenge is to build chemistry especially with the new guys in Morris, Jackson, and Noah. The break didn’t do the new guys any good because they didn’t get to practice with the team. But knowing those veterans, they will be ready to play when called upon.
I think that the Clippers pose a serious threat to win the NBA title. They have the talent and experience to win it all. The Bucks were the better regular-season team and the Lakers have the better record but the Clippers are without a doubt the most talented team in the league right now. With or without Lou Williams, this team is a serious title contender. I would wait until I see how the team plays in the 8-game regular season. If the Clippers look good, they are my bet to win it all this year.
Prediction: L.A. Clippers to win the West and win the NBA title