The Clippers are singing a very different tune compared to the Staples Center counterparts. The Lakers are coming off a championship while Balmer and company are trying to pick up the pieces after they imploded in the playoffs. The Clippers have the talent to win a championship no doubt, but do they have what it really takes?
Things were shaken up a bit once the off-season got under way. Doc Rivers left the team for greener pastures in Philadelphia and what ensued was not pretty. A back-and-forth war of words has been going on between Doc and Clipper star Paul George. PG13 has caught a lot of flack about how poorly he performed down the stretch of last season; it eventually turned into he and his former coach exchanging not so pleasant words. People have been speculating over whether or not Los Angeles has what it takes to push them over this hill to reach the peak. The talent is there, but the culture seems fractured. One more crack and things may become untenable for the Clippers.
L.A. knew things needed to change in order for them to feel good about themselves. Former Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue was elevated from the bench and replaced Doc as the head coach. After that, the team seemed to score big by bringing in Serge Ibaka. Having Harrell come back seemed highly unlikely due to the tension surrounding his departure from the team in the bubble, so Ibaka became the guy for them. Serge’s game fits the modern NBA much better because he can shoot and he and Kawhi got along in Toronto. On draft night, Luke Kennard found his way to L.A. and recently signed an extension with the team for the next four seasons. The Clippers lost Landry Shamet in the trade that netted Kennard, so it seems kind of one-for-one to me.
Speaking of the draft, the Clippers ended up having two second-round selections and, in my opinion, did nothing remarkable. Daniel Oturu was their first selection. He is a strong, athletic big man from Minnesota who could be like Montrezl in time. Jay Scrubb was their second pick, 55th overall, and has some upside. He’s an athletic wing who has the physical profile and two-way upside to stick around in the league. Think Derrick Jones Jr. with less bounce. Neither of these guys instill confidence they’ll be stars some day and I don’t think either of them will play much this season, but they’re both second rounders.
This seems like a make-or-break year for the Clippers. They’re run with two superstars has only begun, but they’ve already reached a point of desperation. Kawhi and George need to carry this team. Plain and simple. Yes, the supporting cast has to do their job when it counts, but if they reach the pinnacle it comes down to their stars being good enough. We’ll have to wait and see if they’re really up for the challenge.