Ok, that was fun, wasn’t it?
With the signing of JaMychal Green the Clippers completed the franchises most incredible FA signing period ever. In fact, the word “incredible” doesn’t really do it justice. What they accomplished was franchise altering, it was unimaginable and virtually incomprehensible.
I know, I know, you’re thinking “hyperbole much”. But this type of thing never happened with the Clippers.
The prior really good Clippers teams (not counting when they were the Buffalo Braves) were built via the draft. The 1992-93 team made it to the playoffs and were led by Danny Manning. The team in 2005-06 got to the WC Semis led by Elton Brand. Of course, the “Lob City” team of 2011-17 made the playoffs every year and were led by Chris Paul. He wasn’t a draft choice (although you could make the argument that Blake Griffin, who was a Clippers draft pick also led this team) but he also wasn’t there by choice.
We can chalk up those “Lob City” years to “basketball reasons”.
What is so unique about this FA period is that arguably the best player in the game chose the Clippers. I can’t tell you how unusual that is to even type. The best player in the game chose the Clippers!
When you add Paul George to the mix as well that is when the collective minds of every basketball fan in Los Angeles and beyond just…blew. Any one of those signing would have been monumental for the Clippers. Somehow, they got both done.
Ok, ok, enough of all that. Let’s take a look at how this should all play out now in the 2019-20 season. The best way to do that is to compare the squad from last season to the one that will start this upcoming one.
This looks like a draw to me. Beverly will be who he has always been, a nuisance to the other team while making smart plays and hitting big shots. Shamet and Robinson should both swing up in terms of their development and I can’t help but think that Lou Williams wants to break the tie he has with Jamal Crawford for most Sixth Man of the Year awards. T. Mann has looked solid in a few Summer League games, but for now, he’s an unknown.
The most obvious loss is Gilgeous-Alexander. I have read that some envision him as a future All-Star. I wouldn’t be surprised. I am sure no one in the Executive offices of the Clippers wanted to part with SGA, but the return was obviously worth the loss.
Huge improvement. I mean, there really is no other way to state it. Gallo was amazing for the Clippers. When he was starting alongside Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan in the 2017-18 season I thought they had the potential to be one of the best front courts in the Association. Sadly, he was limited to only 21 games that season due to a glute injury. He came back strong the following season, but again, like SGA, the return was worth the loss.
Each of the players listed here can guard multiple positions and are as known for their defense as their offence. While there are many advantages here, the one that will likely end up being the most beneficial to the team in the upcoming season is the depth. Depth not just in terms of rolling out a warm body, but quality depth. The regular season is a grind. This group of quality players that, one could argue, is the best and most valuable group at the forward position in the Association, is key. Leonard and George will no doubt lead the team in the Playoffs, but this collective squad will get them there!
Another draw. If Zubac is going to have a breakout season though, this should be it! Kabengele, like Mann, has shown flashes in Summer League. It’s unclear how much of an impact and minutes he will get with the big club this season however, so for now, he remains an unknown.
What’s so impressive about what the Clippers were able to accomplish this off season is that they improved so much at the forward spot while staying mostly intact at the other positions. A team that won 48 games the season before is not supposed to see this much improvement. Well, potential improvement. For all the hype and excitement, we have to remember that 82 games remain to be played in 2019-20.
The Clippers seem primed to be competitive in a way, at least on paper, they have never done before.