Los Angeles Clippers are poised to overtake the Lakers in battle of L.A.
The trio of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Tyronn Lue will own Los Angeles during the 2022-23 season. The Los Angeles Clippers hold the deepest and most versatile roster in the National Basketball Association. Lue led the Clips to an eighth seed without his two superstars. Imagine him with both players returning.
When healthy, George and Leonard are a top three dynamic duo. Add in a reinvigorated five-time All-Star John Wall, and he makes the Clips explosive this upcoming season. As the Los Angeles Lakers continually seek to fine-tune their roster, the aging trio of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook, plus the addition of rookie head coach Darvin Ham, are not enough to compete for the soul of Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Clippers began their dominance of L.A. in 2019.
Leading the all-time series with a 150-81 record, the Lakers have recently struggled against their rival. The Clippers have a stranglehold on the city series by winning the last seven games. The odds for the upcoming season, the Clippers have the fourth-best odds at +750 behind Boston, Milwaukee, and Golden State. Sitting at +1400, the Lakers boast the seventh-best odds.
After billionaire Steve Ballmer purchased the Clippers in 2014 for $2 billion, his determination to field a squad to rival the crosstown Lakers came to fruition in 2019 when Leonard and George agreed to play for the franchise. After dismissing head coach Doc Rivers following the infamous 2020 bubble playoff collapse, Ballmer brought in a crafty veteran coach in Lue.
Elite swingman, George, played in only 31 games due to a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Returning off a torn right ACL suffered in June 2021, Leonard’s recovery is crucial to the team’s success. The last time both were on the court together, Leonard averaged 24.8, and George finished with 23.3. The exceptional addition of Wall gives the team a viable third scorer. The last time the Wizards’ franchise leading scorer played (2020-21), he averaged a smooth 20.6 points per game for the Houston Rockets.
A healthy George and Wall look magnificent during an open run at Rico Hines this summer, giving Clippers fans hope.
Los Angeles Clippers John Wall and Paul George went off at @ricohinesbball runs #NBASummer 🔥
🎥 @swishcultures_ pic.twitter.com/mHtRsneXAp
— NBA (@NBA) August 31, 2022
Depth is crucial to establishing the LA Clippers as true Finals contenders.
Lue’s rotation can go eleven deep with veterans at every position. In addition to its top three, the Clippers’ rotation includes Norman Powell, Marcus Morris, Luke Kennard, Robert Covington, Reggie Jackson, Nicholas Batum, Ivica Zubac, and Terrance Mann. With this many rotation players, this team will not miss a beat.
Expect the Clippers’ defense to suffocate opposing offenses. Two-time NBA Finals MVP Leonard is a smothering defensive presence along with long-wing defenders George, Batum, and Covington. In the previous two seasons, the Clippers have ranked 8th in defensive rating. Their defense will undoubtedly be more robust this season.
The Clippers finished third in the league in 3-point percentage at 37.4 percent with Kennard leading the way at a league-leading 44% from behind the arc. Finishing 12th in three-pointers made with 1047, the Los Angeles Clippers are sure to improve with Leonard, George, and Wall playing.
Jackson returns to a sixth-man role and provides instant offense off the bench. The six-foot-two guard was the Clips’ best player last season, averaging 16.8 points on 39 percent shooting.
If the Lakers can trade Westbrook to the Pacers for Buddy Heild and Myles Turner, the conversation of who is the best in L.A. will have substance. Currently, it is Clip City.
Many will point to the Los Angeles Clippers’ failures in the playoff and dismiss them in favor of the Lakers. Lue’s championship pedigree is the missing ingredient to push them to the top of the NBA.