The Clippers were frauds

The Clippers were frauds
September 30
14:39 2020

At the beginning of the NBA season, if I had to put money down on one scenario, it would have been that the two L.A. teams, the Clippers and Lakers, would meet in the Western Conference finals. As it turns out, I was only 50% right, because the Clippers were unceremoniously bounced from the playoffs in the second round by the Denver Nuggets.

Once the restart began in the bubble, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that the Lakers and the Clippers were going to face off in the playoffs. Both teams were playing well, and their rosters seemed to be head and shoulders above their talented Western Conference foes.  

On Sept. 10, the Clippers and Lakers both held commanding 3-1 leads against their respective opponents and my prediction seemed to be coming to fruition. At that point, things began to unravel for the Clippers, while the Lakers were taking care of business against the Houston Rockets.

The Lakers quickly took care of the Rockets in five games, but the Clippers proceeded to lose three straight games to the Nuggets. The sad part about each of those losses for the Clippers is they were up in double figures in all of those games. When it came down to crunch time, the Clippers folded, and the Nuggets did not.

This outcome for the season was probably something the Clippers’ players, coaches and front office could not have imagined. They literally mortgaged their immediate future to acquire Paul George from the Oklahoma City Thunder and he did not live up to his “Playoff P” moniker.  

For the Clippers to give up first round picks in 2022, 2024, 2026 and 2021 (unprotected) and 2023 (protected) first round selections via the Miami Heat to the Thunder for George, their goal for the season had to be championship or bust. Don’t get me wrong, the Nuggets were a formidable opponent, but with the star power the Clippers have, they were not supposed to lose that way.

The combination of Kawhi Leonard and George was touted as the best wing combination we have seen since LeBron and D-Wade. For the most part, Leonard fulfilled his part of the combo, but George did not. George went missing in several fourth quarters of the series against Denver.  With his woeful performance, coupled with previous playoff disappearances, maybe George is not good enough to be the second star on a championship team.

After the loss to the Nuggets, there were several reports about some dissention in the Clippers’ locker room. According to The Athletic, George attempted to rally his teammates following the Game 7 loss, urging them to stay prepared for another championship run next season. His speech was reportedly met with “eye rolls and bewilderment” from his teammates, primarily due to George having a disappointing series against the Nuggets.

Along with George’s lackluster play, there were reports of him not holding himself accountable for his play. There was even a heated exchange between George and Six-Man of the Year, Montrezl Harrell during game 2 of the series against Denver. The Clippers have several key free agents this off season, including Harrell, which they have to make decisions on.

I also saw a lot of blame thrown at head coach Doc Rivers. Admittedly, he is the only coach in NBA history to lose multiple playoff series while leading 3-1, and he has done it three times now.  I think some of the blame has to go toward Rivers, but I don’t think firing him would be the right move.  

I knew the Clippers were somewhat of a flawed team to begin with, but I thought with the additions of George and Leonard, they could overcome them. The most glaring issues I noticed were the lack of a playmaking point guard and a lack of three-point shooting depth.

We all know the league is now a three-point shooting league and those who shoot it well are coveted assets for any team. The Clippers have competent shooters, but for the most part, they are more streaky than consistent shooters. This off season they need to invest in a couple of knockdown shooters that are threats to shoot every time they catch the ball.

The most pressing issue for them to address this off season is a point guard who can create for others. Throughout the post season, Leonard seemed to take on the role as primary playmaker.  That is not really Kawhi’s strong suit. The Clippers need to invest in a point guard that can handle the playmaking duties and free Leonard up.

I think the Clippers are only a few pieces away and hopefully they will keep the band together to make another run at it next year. I remember there were high expectations for the Miami Heat when LeBron and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade in Miami in 2010. The Heat did not win the title and lost to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA finals. They did at least make it to the finals and the core group returned the next year and won it all.  

I think if the Clippers keep their core group and add the right pieces, they can come back next year and win it all. Their window to win is not very large, so they must take advantage of this opportunity while it is here. I just hope they don’t choose to blow it up and start from scratch, because I think we all want to see a Lakers vs. Clippers matchup next year in the conference finals.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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