The battle for Los Angeles is finally on, as the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers are extremely reinforced looking ahead of this upcoming campaign with the arrivals of Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, and DeMarcus Cousins.
Truth to be told, it’s quite difficult to try and figure out which roster is actually better, as they’re both incredibly stacked and deep, and also have enough superstar power to put together a Championship run.
But before thinking of the NBA Finals, these teams must go at each other to try and prove they’re the best squad in town. So, if they faced just once in the season, who’d win? Let’s break it down:
Los Angeles Lakers
Point Guard: Rajon Rondo
Frank Vogel denied the report that claimed that LeBron James was going to run the point for the Lakers, so we’ll assume the team is going to run it back with Rajon Rondo at the one spot. When locked in, he’s still a suffocating and pesky defender, and his playmaking abilities have always been off the charts.
Shooting Guard: Danny Green
Danny Green was a major addition for this team during the offseason, a 3-and-D specialist that’s really going to help stretch the floor for the Lakers. LeBron and Davis need shooters, and Green is one of the best in the league. His lateral quickness and long reach make him a deadly defender as well even at his age.
Small Forward: LeBron James
LeBron James is going to have a full summer to fully restore his body for the first time in over 15 seasons, and that means trouble. James is going to play with a chip on his shoulder night in and night out, so it’s pretty safe to expect this upcoming season to be his best yet in the league. Yes, at age 34.
Power Forward: Anthony Davis
Anthony Davis finally had what he wanted, so he better back up the talk with his game right now. Besides his proneness to get hurt, there’s no actual flaw in his game, so he’s made the Lakers an instant Championship contender. He’s the best two-way big man in the game and having LeBron next to is going to open up a lot of space for his drives.
Center: DeMarcus Cousins
And last but not least, the Lakers can turn to DeMarcus Cousins as their go-to-guy down low, and that’s just not fair. Cousins is looking in the best shape of his career and he’s determined to prove that he should’ve gotten way more interest in free agency. Also, he already knows how to dominate and share the court with Davis.
Bench: Avery Bradley, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, JaVale McGee, Quinn Cook, Jared Dudley
The Los Angeles Lakers have put together an outstanding second unit, featuring a lot of balance between shooting, defense, youth, and experienced, so they’re definitely going to be a major problem.
Kyle Kuzma’s shooting has really improved and he’s proven to be a great scorer, while Quinn Cook can shoot lights out. Also, Bradley, Caldwell-Pope, McGee, and Dudley are all versatile defenders.
Los Angeles Clippers
Point Guard: Patrick Beverley
Patrick Beverley is the ultimate war dog. He’s a much better playmaker than people give him credit for, and he’s - to my eyes - a top 5 backcourt defender in this league. He’s a driving force, and his grit and grind are quite contagious, and that’s why Doc Rivers made him one of his top priorities for the summer.
Shooting Guard: Paul George
Paul George is coming off an MVP caliber season and he was also playing like a Defensive Player of the Year before injuring his shoulder. He’s a top-tier player that could make this team a championship contender even without Kawhi Leonard, but now that they have both, they’re a major menace.
Small Forward: Kawhi Leonard
Kawhi Leonard is, up to this day, the best player in the world. He’s a two-way beast that proved that he was wrong for holding out with the San Antonio Spurs and led the Toronto Raptors to their first-ever NBA Championship. He’s one of the few players able to check LeBron James and that’s great news for the Clippers.
Power Forward: JaMychal Green
JaMychal Green actually declined more lucrative offers with other teams in order to come back to the Los Angeles Clippers on their championship run this season. He’s a physical presence down low that can guard all the way to the perimeter and an underrated force down low, even if it doesn’t reflect in the stat sheet.
Center: Montrezl Harrell
Montrezl Harrell is coming off a breakout season so we’ll have to assume he’s going to be Doc Rivers’ starter at the center spot. He’s a dominant rebounder on both sides of the glass and has also made great strides in the offensive end of the floor. His presence will open a lot of lanes for Leonard and George.
Bench: Landry Shamet, Lou Williams, Rodney McGruder, Ivica Zubac, Mo Harkless, Jerome Robinson
One of the Clippers’ biggest strengths has to be their second unit. They feature two great shooters on Landry Shamet and perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate Lou Williams, and Jerome Robinson should have a bigger role going forward.
Rodney McGruder proved to be more than capable of putting points on the scoreboard with ease and Mo Harkless will give them so hardnosed defense. Finally, Ivica Zubac is one of the league’s most enticing prospects and he’ll definitely be a huge factor for this team.
This game is a war to death from the jump ball, with Patrick Beverley completely harassing LeBron James to prevent him from running the Lakers’ offense, and Rajon Rondo trying to get on his head. 3 minutes into the game and Beverley and Rondo are already T’d up.
Anthony Davis tries to carry the load early on, with DeMarcus Cousins struggling to get past Montrezl Harrell and picking up two early fouls. Still, the game is pretty close, with the Lakers leading 22-20 after one.
Paul George takes over in the second quarter by completely torching Danny Green. Hesitations, crosses, pull-ups, and finishing through contact, this man is on fire and is not going to be stopped. Timeout Lakers, Dudley comes in to check him.
Dudley’s able to slow George down and the Lakers have gone small with Kuzma at the 5. Still, JaMychal Green is completely bullying him down low and Frank Vogel doesn’t seem to have an answer. Clippers 57-50 Lakers at the break.
Kawhi Leonard goes on a run of his own, and the game turns into a James-Leonard shootout. Bucket after bucket, there’s no basket unanswered, but hey, James hears a pop again, and his grabbing his groin, bad news for the Lakers, with the Clippers up 5 after 3.
Boogie continues to struggle against the Clippers’ physical defense and the Lakers turn to Kuzma and Davis to try and close the gap as they go on a 10-0 run to tie the game with 0.5 seconds left on the clock and LeBron sidelined with an injury.
The last ball of the game, George inbounds to Kawhi, who shoots from the right corner. The ball bounces off the rim once, twice, three times and then… money! He’s done it again. Board Man Gets Paid. Clippers win 122-120.