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The Eclipsing Clippers

The frenzy of the free agency gets even more mind-blowing as the moves being made are progressively making this upcoming NBA season the most unpredictable season in 5 years. Before, the NBA audience almost automatically knew who we would be seeing battle it out for the championship every year. Those two colliding forces that came to mind were none other than LeBron James and the Golden State Warriors. Of course, LeBron going to the Lakers and converting to the Western Conference this past season eliminated hopes for any more NBA finals matchups with Golden State.

Next, him getting injured amid last season, caused his team to drop in the rankings and miss the postseason preventing any chance for a rendezvous in the playoffs against the juggernaut Warriors. However, this offseason was slowly but surely tipping the scale in LeBron’s favor. Kevin Durant, the best player in that Warriors ball club decided to venture out on his own and sign with the Brooklyn Nets to win a championship without their help. This opened a huge window of opportunity for LeBron and the rest of the NBA that allowed the Lakers front office to salvage a prime Anthony Davis to complement this year’s upcoming roster.

Keep in mind the fact that LeBron has never had a teammate as talented as AD and the fact that he is getting him in his prime, should compliment amazingly. Not only that, but did I forget to mention that they picked up Demarcus Cousins as well as pairing him up with AD to form the best big man duo of power forward and center in the league? This will be interesting considering that the dynamic between the two big men did not work too well back in New Orleans, but that was before aligning with the best basketball player in the world, LeBron. Not to mention that this offseason will be the most rest LeBron has ever gotten in years, so he will have had plenty of time to recover from the first injury that caused him to miss multiple games consecutively throughout a season.

Nonetheless, all of that was to say that the odds were most certainly starting to favor the king heavily, or at least it was before 2-time NBA champion, 2-time finals MVP, 3-time all-star, 3-time All-NBA, 2-time defensive player of the year, and 5-time All-Defensive player Kawhi Leonard decided to shake things up. Not joining the king with the Lakers, but deciding to move right next door to LeBron and joining the Los Angeles Clippers signing a three-year $103M max deal. This move caught everybody tuned into free agency by storm as Leonard did just win a championship title with his former team the Toronto Raptors.

But yet uncertainty was left in the hearts of all Canadian basketball fans as the superstar had been crying out to play for his hometown of LA since being with the Spurs even before being traded. Leonard is not the only one coming to deliver competition to LeBron in the city of angels. Another LA native, Paul George,  has decided to assist Leonard with his new team to try and make a run for the gold. To acquire PG, the Clippers had to trade away guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, promising forward Danilo Gallinari, along with a record number of five first-round draft picks.

This was a huge risk considering how many draft-picks and pieces the Clippers gave up for PG, a player who was in MVP discussion last season, but fell short after an injury and hasn’t been quite the same ever since. Although the reward for the risk that the Clippers just took does have tremendous upside, combining these two talented athletic wings of Leonard and PG to culminate with a supporting cast who are gritty and a somewhat proven roster. In my opinion, I don’t believe that a single Clippers fan is doubting any of the moves that prestigious General Manager Jerry West has made.

West is one of the main reasons that the Clippers are on the rise in the NBA. His overall basketball knowledge formed one of the greatest teams in NBA history with the Golden State Warriors. Without a doubt, the Clippers took note of this and gave him whatever he wanted for West to come on board and run the show for their team. When you take a look at how the team has performed recently, it seems like the gamble is paying off. It appeared that all hope was fading for the franchise after letting go of all of their all-stars and valuable pieces with Chris Paul to the Rockets, Blake Griffin to the Pistons, and DeAndre Jordan to the Mavericks, now look more prominent than ever.

With these two now joining forces with this roster, I am very tuned in to see how deep the team can make it into the postseason. Before the stars arrived at the Clippers, they were already put to the test facing the beast that West helped form in Golden State in the first round of the playoffs last year. Their outing was impressive, to say the least ultimately losing the series, but managed to pull out 2 games against the three-time champs. One of the victories came in one of the most valiant efforts I have ever seen, coming back from a 31-point deficit to win against the Warriors in game 2 of the series-tying it up 1-1.

At that point in the playoffs, the thought crept into most viewers heads that the Clippers might have a chance to beat the champions. Once again it was just a thought as the Warriors left the Clippers in the first round winning the series 4-2. Although with this new mixture of talent added to the team and the brilliance of head coach Doc Rivers, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to think that the Clippers can finally get a banner to hang up in Staples Center to rival the Lakers as Rivers has already coached a team to win a championship back in Boston. The Clippers still have a lot of catching up to the Lakers to do as far as a legacy is concerned. But, let us basketball fans see if the Clippers can start a run of their own to compete with their next-door neighbor, the Lakers.

John Starcks

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