When given a choice between the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers, Reggie Jackson (who recently agreed to a buyout from the Pistons) chose the Clippers — a team that has been historically and notoriously behind the Lakers in almost every category imaginable.
Throughout the history of L.A. basketball, the Lakers have always been the team to dominate. Their illustrious lore, history, and glamour made them one of the main attractions of the NBA.
The Clippers, meanwhile have never been able to achieve the same status, despite literally playing in the same arena.
That all changed with the arrival of Doc Rivers, who began to re-make the Clippers into a respected franchise and worthy competitor. This past summer, the arrivals of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George made them something they’ve never been: a Championship favorite.
Still, even with the acquisition of major star-power, there are doubts. Are Kawhi and PG enough to surpass the likes of the Bucks, Rockets, Lakers, and Celtics? Will their locker room remain drama-free?
A simple look at their roster will dispell most doubts.
George and Kawhi are a scary pairing. Not only are they dominant on the offensive end (and able to score in multiple different ways) but they are also two of the best defenders at their position. Kawhi, fresh off a Championship victory with the Raptors, is averaging 27 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 5.3 assists. George is averaging 21 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 3.9 assists on 42% shooting.
The rest of the starting lineup includes veteran two-way big man Marcus Morris, defensive juggernaut Patrick Beverley, and promising young big man, Ivica Zubac.
Off the bench, the Clippers have a squad that would probably beat most starting fives. They have athletic guard Landry Shamet, and veteran big man Montrezl Harrell, who is averaging 18 points this season and is a solid two-way player who provides a major spark. Lou Williams, 3x Sixth Man of the Year winner, is averaging nearly 20 points per game for the Clippers.
Their newest addition, Reggie Jackson, who was a starting guard for years in Detroit, is expected to run the offense for this second unit, and he is clearly hungry for a Championship.
All-in-all, the Clippers have what is probably the deepest roster in the NBA. And while we’ve seen teams with crazy talent flop in the past, this team seems different.
They are fourth in the NBA in team points per game, 13th in field goal percentage, third in defensive rebounding, third in opponent field goal percentage, sixth in opponent 3-point percentage and currently stand at third in the West with a 37-18 record.
Of course, their run has not come without some chatter.
Earlier in the season, a comment made by Montrezl Harrell (seemingly hinting at locker room problems) raised more than a few eyebrows. Questionable blowout losses to bad teams, injury troubles, and “load management” have also contributed to L.A. being so far behind their rivals in the standings (5 games back from the Lakers).
Still, nobody is expecting this team to fold come playoff time. Analysts all around the community are picking the Clippers to win it all this season — and it’s easy to see why.
No doubt, steep competition in their own conference will make things hard for Doc Rivers and his crew. The Lakers have two of the best players in the world to go along with a strong supporting cast of their own. The Rockets are buying into their system of basketball in a way nobody’s ever seen before. The Nuggets, as quiet as they have been, seem ready to make amends for last year’s failures.
But when it comes to the very top, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone not willing to put the Clippers up there. Their roster is just too stacked to ignore right now.