The Clippers have had an impressive season, this season. They are currently the 6th seed in the Western Conference, with a record of 47-31. They are 8-2 in their last ten games, just two games behind the Blazers for 4th place in the West.
Let’s take a look at how the Clippers went from lob city being broken up to the Clippers tanking, to the Clippers clinching a playoff berth.
The Clippers traded Chris Paul to the Houston Rockets for Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Sam Dekker, and a 2018 1st-round pick. The big 3 era (Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, and Blake Griffin) came to a close. Most people thought the Clippers didn’t make a good trade. However, the Clippers didn’t make a good trade; they made a great trade. Patrick Beverley is the heart and soul of the LA Clippers. Lou Williams is undoubtedly the sixth man of the year, the best player on the Clippers now, taking over games in the fourth quarter, leading this team to the playoffs. Montrezl Harrell merely is in beast mode every time he steps on the basketball court. If there were a 7th man of the year, Harrell would win that award unanimously. Patrick Beverley is averaging 7.6 points, on 40.4% shooting, 5 rebounds, 3.8 assists, 0.9 steals per game. You may look at these numbers and say, those aren’t good numbers for a starting point guard in the league, wrong. Patrick Beverley does much more on the basketball court that isn’t shown on the stat sheet. He guards the likes of Steph Curry, Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker, Chris Paul, etc. on a nightly basis and he does an excellent job of guarding them as well. At times, he even guards Paul George and LeBron James. Lou Williams is averaging 20.3 points, on 43% shooting, 2.9 rebounds, 5.3 assists per game. He can go scoreless the first three quarters, then score 25 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Clippers to a win. Montrezl Harell is averaging 16.7 points, 61.7% shooting, 6.6 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.9 steals, and 1.4 blocks a game. He always gives it his all when in the game, you know what to expect from Harrell when he is in the game.
The Clippers went on to trade Blake Griffin, Willie Reed, and Brice Johnson to the Detroit Pistons for Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, Avery Bradley, 1st-round draft pick, and a 2nd-round draft pick. Tobias Harris turned out to be a great player in Doc Rivers’ system. Harris averaged 20.1 points, on 48% shooting, 7 rebounds, 2.9 assists, and 1 steal per game. Boban Marjanovic quickly became a fan favorite in LA for Clipper fans. When Boban played, he would likely get double-digit points and rebounds. Avery Bradley didn’t have a great year with the Clippers; however, he was a good defender.
During the NBA Draft, the Clippers traded Miles Bridges to the Charlotte Hornets for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. This trade turned out to better for both teams. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been great for the Clippers all season long, when he was named a starter, slowly but surely, we saw Shai growing, and playing much better. He is a good defender, and if he can form a consistent jumper, he could be the future of this franchise. Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 10.6 points, on 47.4% shooting, 2.8 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 1.2 steals per game.
In the 2018 free agency, DeAndre Jordan signed with the Dallas Mavericks..again, but this time did not return to the Clippers. They traded Austin Rivers to the Washington Wizards for Marcin Gortat. Gortat did not do well with the Clippers. But, it opened up a more significant opportunity for Montrezl Harrell to flourish.
Before the trade deadline, the Clippers traded Tobias Harris, Boban Marjanovic, and Mike Scott, to the Philadelphia 76ers for Landry Shamet, Mike Muscala, Wilson Chandler, 2 1st-round picks, and 2 2nd-round picks. Shamet has been impressive with the Clippers so far. Wilson Chandler could be significant for the Clippers in the playoffs if he gets his shot to go in again and remains healthy. After that trade took place, a lot of people thought this was the end to the Clippers season, and they were going to tank. They did not stop there with trades. They went on to Avery Bradley to the Memphis Grizzles for JaMychal Green and Garrett Temple. They added depth with this trade, and Green could also be a big part for the Clippers in the playoffs, Temple is a 3-and-D type player, which will also be a positive for LA. They went on to trade Mike Muscala to the Lakers for Ivica Zubac and Michael Beasley. They cut Beasley right after.
Now, the Clippers team is set. The starting five as of right now, is Patrick Beverley, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Landry Shamet, Danilo Gallinari, and Ivica Zubac. Off the bench, they have Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, Garrett Temple, JaMychal Green, and Wilson Chandler. There is a lot of depth on this team, that can be key in the playoffs. I think the Clippers will be able to get past the first round, at least, if they don’t face off against the Warriors.
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