The Los Angeles Clippers are off to a great start this season. Despite injuries to their top players, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers have been able to stay afloat and are currently 3rd in the Western Conference with a 23-11 record. Even with this start, the Clippers do have problems that must be fixed if they want to win a championship this year.
The biggest problem for the Clippers so far has been the regression of Kawhi Leonard this season. Kawhi is having the worst shooting season of his career so far as he is shooting 46.6% from the field with a solid 38.3% from three. Kawhi is having a career-high in assists this season with 5.1 per game but, his assist percentage has gone down from 40.3% in October to 21.5% in December. Besides Kawhi, most of the other Clippers are playing well but, some improvements need to be made.
In the offseason, the biggest issue for the Clippers was their lack of facilitators/playmakers and we are seeing that problem come to fruition so far this season. The Clippers are 19th in assists per game with a measly 23.3. To add insult to injury, the Clippers are tied for the 7th worst team when it comes to ball security as they are turning the ball over 15.4 times per game.
The defense on this team has also slipped on the past two months as they went from the 3rd best defense in November with a 102.2 DefRating to the 15th ranked defense so far in December with a 108.2 DefRating.
As you can see, the Clippers have a glaring issue with playmaking as well as an issue with consistent defense. It may be premature to discuss these issues as we are only 2 months into the season but, it is better to fix these issues now rather than later. A potential player that the Clippers could trade for would be Draymond Green. A trade would be Draymond Green and Willie Cauley-Stein for Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams, Jerome Robinson and Moe Harkless.
For the Clippers, Draymond Green is a do-it-all type of player. Draymond would be the perfect facilitator for this team as he doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be successful. Also, Draymond would be the highest assist-getter on this team with 5.6 assists per game. To add to this, Green and the Warriors are having a down year this season and with All-star teammates, Green is capable of averaging 7 assists per game, something he has done every year since the 2015-16 season.
A starting lineup of Beverley-Paul George-Kawhi Leonard-Draymond Green-WCS is frightening defensively and would propel the Clippers in that area. Rotating Kawhi, PG, and Dray on LeBron if they play in the playoffs would fatigue him as well as help to keep both Kawhi and PG fresher on defense. WCS should be a good matchup against AD and his length should give him problems.
For the Warriors, Montrezl Harrell would be a great addition to the team. Harrell would be the best center on this Warriors team in a very long time and adds another player for the future. This year seems like a “gap year” for the Warriors due to their injuries and a year to develop players and hopefully get a top pick. A team next year comprised of Curry, Klay, D-Lo, Harrell, and a potential top-5 pick will be good now and in the future. Lou Williams would be an amazing sixth man and a potential bench back-court of him and D-Lo would be deadly.
Lou Will can give you buckets each and every night, even at his old age. At the very least, Williams could just become another trade asset and you could get a lot from him from another contender. Jerome Robinson is a 6’4 guard that you can develop and mold into a 3-D type of player. He should pick up on traits from Klay Thompson and the hope here is that he can turn into something special. Trading Draymond doesn’t seem likely for the Warriors as he has been a vital part of their success and will have his jersey retired. The problem is that the NBA is a business and trades like this always happen. Also, the emergence of Eric Paschall makes Draymond expendable.
For the Clippers, people may be skeptical about trading Montrezl but, he is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season and will have a high demand. It is uncertain whether or not they will be able to resign him so they should look to get something for him. Not to mention, Harrell isn’t a modern-day Center as he cannot shoot as well as being undersized at that position.