The Clippers are probably the favorites for the NBA title this year and have the most depth and talent in comparison to the other top contenders in the league. Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard is having another terrific season, averaging 26.9 PPG on 46.9% shooting, and he has an exceptional number two options in Paul George who is averaging 21.0 PPG who is still getting himself into shape following injury.
But the Clippers still have to worry about the likes of the Lakers and Bucks, who have their own MVP talent and enough shooters and defenders to compete tightly with the Clippers. If the Clippers want to distinguish themselves from the pack, they might have to make some moves. Specifically, they might want to target some exceptional defensive players with a proven track record.
By offering a very attractive trade package in Patrick Beverley, reigning 6th man of the year Lou Williams, Ivica Zubac, Landry Shamet and Montrezl Harrell (sign and trade); the Clippers could get themselves a very good player to increase their title odds.
Here are the best defensive players the Clippers can target.
The reunion of Chris Paul with the Clippers could be a very exciting one. Paul is arguably the greatest player in their franchise history, making them relevant and forming “Lob City” for a franchise that has been dormant for as long as anyone can remember.
But Paul is still an All-Star player, and one of the best defensive leaders in the league. Chris Paul, Kawhi Leonard, and Paul George would give the Clippers three All-NBA talents on the defensive end. Chris Paul definitely deserves an NBA Finals appearance, and his best chance might be with teaming up with the Clippers.
Chris Paul, even as he ages, is still a dominant defensive player who is both vocal and experienced. His ability to influence the game, with his active hands in the passing Lanes and on-ball defense would give the Clippers three amazing perimeter defenders to compete with the Bucks and Lakers.
Draymond Green is an exceptional defensive talent, but this season hasn’t done him very well when analyzing his impact on the Warriors. Without Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the Warriors are the worst team in the league, and Green literally cannot do anything to influence that.
The reason is simple: Green is a hustle guy and defensive specialist who thrives on very good teams. In fact, Green is an All-Star performer on very good teams. With the Clippers, he would be yet again an All-NBA Defensive selection and a very impactful player.
Draymond Green could defend, rebound, and run the break with George and Leonard accompanying him. It would actually be scary to watch how dominant the Clippers would be with Green. The Warriors would probably consider moving on from Green with the right trade package, so the Clippers should look out for this.
Gobert has seemingly made a mess of his relationship with franchise star Donovan Mitchell, and this could play into the Clippers’ hands. Gobert is probably the best defender in the league right now, using his 7-foot frame to swat shots and eat up rebounds on a consistent basis. Gobert is simply the most impactful defensive presence in the paint today.
A big three with Kawhi, George, and Gobert would probably put them over the edge against the Lakers and especially the Bucks. The clippers would be too long and too dominant defensively for the Lakers, who would have some trouble getting to the basket. Gobert would match up with AD very well, and also be a wall in front of the basket when LeBron James attacks.
Gobert needs to be on the Clippers wishlist because George and Leonard might not be enough to slow AD and LeBron James down.
In the case that the Clippers can’t get Rudy Gobert, they should go after Steven Adams. Adams is a very big and powerful player and has experience playing with Paul George in Oklahoma City. Adams has a nice touch around the rim as well, so he isn’t an offensive liability by any means.
What Adams gives the Clippers is a roadblock similar to Rudy Gobert, and a player who plays with intense strength. Having a 7-footer to throw at Anthony Davis would help the Clippers a lot, and would give Leonard and George a safety option in case LeBron beats them off the dribble.
The Clippers are a great team, but they could be even better with defensive specialist Steven Adams on board.
Last but certainly not least, the Clippers should go all-in for Joel Embiid. While the Sixers probably aren’t shopping Embiid, they might have to make some changes if they want to make an NBA Finals in the near future. The team has not been very consistent this year, and there are doubts about the partnership of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. They are great talents, but they don’t seem to be able to impact the game enough this year.
If the Sixers make a change and prefer to keep the All-NBA caliber playmaker in Ben Simmons, Embiid might be made excess to requirements. If the Clippers do manage to grab Embiid, their big three would probably go down in history as one of the most talented ones ever.
Embiid is a monster defensive presence, using a mix of size and strength to bother opposing bigs. Even when defending guards, he usually has enough in the tank to sprint and swat away any weak shots around the rim.