In the aftermath of the Clippers’ shocking collapse in the Western Conference Semis, the world is left looking for an explanation as to why a team loaded with so much talent fell so short of meeting their expectations.
As the leader and best player on the team, Kawhi Leonard obviously deserves some blame, and it is disappearance in the fourth quarter last night that has been scrutinized by the community.
The finger can also be pointed at Paul George (the secondary star) and the supporting cast, who were unable to provide enough on either end of the floor to make up for Leonard’s shortcomings.
But at the end of the day, the Nuggets deserve a lot of credit, not only for their resilience in coming back from a 1-3 hole but also for exploiting L.A.s biggest weakness: the frontcourt.
Ivica Zubac, Montrezl Harrell (who is a major defensive liability), and the undersized JaMychal Green are really the only options the Clippers have at center, and it just wasn’t enough to slow down Nikola Jokic, who shredded the Clips throughout the series and especially in Game 7, when he dropped 16 points, 22 rebounds, and 13 assists.
Many questions have been raised about how this team will respond to their failure, but it seems obvious that they need to bring in some size and help around the rim if they want to avoid another situation like this next year.
The good news for them is that a talented, Championship-winning big man just so happens to be on the market this offseason, and he’d be the perfect fit for L.A.
“[Marc] Gasol still has value as a passer, floor-spacer and interior defender. Sign the Clippers up for all that. This isn’t an indictment of Ivica Zubac, who has defended his tail off and played well on offense during the postseason. But the Clippers cannot play five out without going to JaMychal Green at the 5 or downsizing to Marcus Morris Sr. in the middle. Gasol would help them get there without forfeiting size or girth. Keeping tabs on him would also be good Montrezl Harrell insurance. They are two vastly different players, but the latter’s free agency will be fascinating.”
Despite the current state of basketball, and the revolution of 3-point shooting, losses by the Rockets and, now, the Clippers, prove that having size still matters in the NBA.
While Jokic is no traditional center, and he’s talented enough to overcome many obstacles, having a bigger, stronger, and more capable defender (like Marc Gasol) to throw at him would have worked wonders in their efforts to slow him down on the offensive end.
If the Clips are smart, they’ll look to plug their biggest flaw this offseason so they can come back more dangerous than ever before. We will see soon enough how it all unfolds and if this franchise can recover from what was one of the biggest upsets in basketball history.