Basketball

Clippers season preview: Best team in L.A. again?


Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

* Star power up top… It’s not a secret that to compete at a championship level, you need at least one superstar at the top of your rotation. Having potentially two as the Clippers do doesn’t hurt, however. It remains to be seen how Leonard will look in his return from a year-plus-long layoff due to a major knee injury, but if he’s back to looking like his old self, L.A. will have a tough-shot-making, top-notch defending two-way wing, one with two Finals MVP awards in his trophy case. Alongside him, George has likewise proven to be one of the best two-way wings in the sport, also capable of hitting shots from all over the floor no matter the defense, as well as locking up opposing top-option players. That’s undoubtedly a one-two punch that can compete for a championship in 2022-23.

* Strong pieces surrounding an elite 1-2 punch… Of course, besides star power, teams need players who are stars in their complementary roles to compete for titles, and the Clippers have just that. Los Angeles boasts a roster that legitimately goes 11 deep – just scroll down and check out its depth chart if you don’t believe us – with George and Leonard surrounded by elite shooting, two-way pieces and serviceable big men. Just some of those players include Norman Powell, an elite outside shooter, Robert Covington, a solid 3-and-D wing, Terance Mann, a positionally versatile ball-handler who really competes defensively and Ivica Zubac, a strong screen setter and pick-and-roll threat.

That’s without even discussing the Clippers’ two point guards, John Wall and Reggie Jackson, who will have nights where they take over, although consistency could be an issue for them. Luke KennardMarcus Morris and Nic Batum, whose skill sets are well-known even by casual fans, make up the rest of what could be the deepest rotation in basketball next season.

* The rotation has isolation scoring, pick-and-roll threats, shooting, defense and toughness… There may be some who think we’re overselling the Clippers here, but the roster truly has a bit of everything, which is why so many believe they head into next season as title favorites. Wall and Mann can run the pick-and-roll while Zubac can finish out of the popular play type; Leonard, George and Jackson can handle the one-on-one scoring; Powell, Kennard and Morris can knock down shots as three-point threats; while Mann, Morris and Covington will provide defense and toughness. The roster isn’t perfect top to bottom but it has enough variety to make the Clippers scary heading into next campaign.



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