A new season with a new beginning is an understatement when it comes to changes to the Los Angeles Clippers. Before last season, the Clippers traded point guard Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets and started a rebuild. Going into last season, Los Angeles still had their old look with center DeAndre Jordan and power forward Blake Griffin. Undervalued Los Angeles Clippers are eager to start 2018-19 NBA season led by a team full of highly-efficient players. The Clippers will rely on the impact of those veterans and their fresh rookies coach by Doc Rivers once again. Each player has a set of roles and impact instead of a specific playing ability like in the past. This is the most diverse set of players and roster since Rivers was with the Boston Celtics.
Undervalued Los Angeles Clippers Eager to Start 2018-19 NBA Season
Projected Depth Chart
Point Guard: Patrick Beverley, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Milos Teodosic, Ty Wallace.
Shooting Guard: Avery Bradley, Lou Williams, Jerome Robinson.
Small Forward: Tobias Harris, Mike Scott, Sindarius Thornwell.
Power Forward: Danilo Gallinari, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.
Center: Marcin Gortat, Montrezl Harrell, Boban Marjanovic.
What to Expect Offensively
Patrick Beverley, former 2016-2017 NBA season all-defensive first-team selection, is back in his second year with the team. Beverley missed most of the season with a knee injury and hopes to rebuild the Clippers with a juggernaut defense. Shooting guard Avery Bradley will also contribute highly-efficient defense to the Clippers as well as score. Both small forward Danilo Gallinari and power forward Tobias Harris are two of the most versatile scorers for the Clippers. They can drive efficiently to the basket and score from behind-the-arc. DeAndre Jordan is gone after ten seasons with L.A. Center Marcin Gortat is not the dominant defender or scorer as Jordan was with the Clippers. The Clippers, however, wants Gortat to be more consistent than dominant in the paint.
Beverley and Bradley both can score from all around the court by either shooting threes or driving to the paint. Although they are not at the most consistent scorers in the NBA, they have availability to set up open looks. Harris and Gallinari will be the driving force for offensive production for the Clippers this season. In the 21 games, Gallinari played for the Clippers, scored an average of 15.3 points per game. When Tobias Harris was traded to the Clippers, he became an instant star. Harris averaged 18.6 points per game on a 46% field-goal percentage and a 41.1% 3-point shooting percentage. The Clippers offense has dynamism with these talented players spread-out through the court.
Bench Players Will Provide Diverse Scoring Setting
The sixth man of the year award winner in shooting guard Lou Williams will be the main offensive contributor off the bench. Last season, Williams accounted for 22.6 points per game with a 43.5% field-goal percentage and a 35.9% three-point shooting percentage. Last season, Williams accounted for 16-games where he scored between 15-to-19 points. Williams had 33-games where he was in the 20-point range and 13-games where he was in the 30-point range. He also had three games where he was in the 40-point range and had a tremendous game where he scored 50. He also accounted for an average of 5.3 assists per game. His impact and production offensively match the impact of a point guard in the league.
Montrezl Harrell was one of the most surprising contributors for the Clippers offensively last season. Harrell averaged 11 points per game and a 63.5% field-goal percentage. Williams along with Milos Teodosic will be efficient to set up plays and scoring from the three-point lane. Harrell and Mike Scott are solid men who score efficiently inside the paint. Having a bench that creates impact from the paint and from the three-point arc is extremely versatile and reliable. It won’t be a surprise if rookies Shai-Gilgeous Alexander and Jerome Robinson’s minutes increase throughout the season.
The Rise of the Clipper’s Defensive Powerhouse
With a new look and a roster without a “superstar,” the Clippers have created themselves a new brand of basketball. One of them is the brand of “Clamp City.” This idea is generated by the many playmakers on the team who are incredibly efficient in defending. This group is led by Beverley, who was on the NBA all-defensive first-team for the 2016-2017 season. Chris Paul (with the Clippers) was on that same first-team but possesses a different defensive style than Patrick. Paul was quick and nimble while Beverley in an aggressive man-on-man defender as is Avery Bradley. Having two aggressive defenders like Beverley and Harris is vital for a Clippers defense that was ranked 24th in the league last year in points allowed per game (109). This is with both players in Beverley (11) and Bradley (6) playing in limited games last year.
Lou Williams is a talented defender as he can make efficient reads on the opposing offense and account for steals. Harrell is a solid defender in the paint as he can play Power Forward and move quickly but also guard a Center. Rookies Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson could contribute defensively as well. Last year at Kentucky, Gilgeous-Alexander accounted for 1.6 steals per game. In his 2nd year at Boston College, Robinson accounted for 1.7 steals per game. Clipper fanbases loved the acquiring of forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute after spending one season with the Houston Rockets. Mbah a Moute spent two seasons with the Clippers before last season providing lockdown man-coverage. He will continue to do the same this season along with newcomer shooting forward Mike Scott.
Clippers Need to Stay Healthy This Season
One of the biggest downfalls for Clippers for many seasons, including last season, is the high number of injuries. Last season, Los Angeles got hit with quick injuries to point guard Milos Teodosic (foot), power forward Blake Griffin (MCL), point guard Patrick Beverley (knee), and shooting forward Danilo Gallinari (glute and fractured hand). Gallinari only played in 21 games and Beverley only played in 11 games. Teodosic played in 45 games but had not been the same dynamic player since that second game of the season. If the Clippers want to make themselves a threat in the Western Conference, they need to stay healthy without injuries. It is almost unavoidable but the procedures to take care of injuries is what hurt Gallinari and Beverley.
Positive Outlook and Heavy Competitive Spirit Could Give L.A. a Playoff Boost
Los Angeles having a roster of undervalued and potential NBA impact players on the roster is what the team needs to shed that past of playoff letdowns. The entire starting roster is composed of players who were traded to Los Angeles for Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, shooting guard Jamal Crawford, and point guard Austin Rivers. Other than Harrell and Williams (acquired in the Paul trade), the rest of the players are ones that were personally drafted by general manager Michael Winger, Vice President of Basketball Operations Frank Lawrence, and consultant Jerry West.
Team chemistry and drive is already high despite the variety of player dynamics and how they were acquired by L.A. The team knows they are being overlooked by many a playoff competitor despite a talented roster. Beverley, Harris, Williams, Gallinari, and other players have been vocal about their pursuit and determination to compete night in and night out. Harrell loves the team’s mental drive without being weighed down by egos of certain players no longer with L.A. The Clippers have an advantage of not having to rely on a single player for production. If one Clipper is struggling, there is another talented player to control and potentially lead them to victory. The Clippers will start the 2018-2019 NBA season by hosting the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night, October 17th.
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