It’s easy to forget about the 2018-19 LA Clippers, but it wouldn’t be the smart thing to do.
Going into the NBA season, not many people thought much about the LA Clippers, as the team lost all of its big three in Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan. As a result, the Clippers only received 3 national games for the entire season. For a comparison, the team had 19 national games last year, and 26 the year before. Within two years, the Clippers went from the second most national games in the league to only 3.
What the NBA world didn’t expect was for the Clippers to start the season 7-5 with wins over the Rockets twice, the Thunder, and the Bucks. On a team without any superstars, there has became a plethora of stories to watch. Would Tobias Harris have the breakout year that transcends him into becoming a star? Is Montrezl Harrell going to prove that he’s a worthy candidate to become 6th man of the year, or the most improved player? Will Shai Gilgeous-Alexander become the sleeper candidate for rookie of the year? Somehow that same team devoid of a single All-Star managed to become a top ten offense in the league, and became a joy to watch.
As the Clippers lost their expectations, somehow the buzz around them has grown. The buzz has created interest from national media outlets such as: The Ringer, Sports Illustrated, and Bleacher Report. Through their infectious and successful play, the Clippers have become, “the most attractive free-agent situation” according to rival executives. It’s a strange concept to wrap one’s head around. How does a team with only 3 national games become such a hot topic for the national media?
People believed the Clippers would fall back into obscurity without a single member of Lob City, but that isn’t the case at all. The ashes of Lob City gave birth to Clamp City, and a whole new identity. Through tough and smart decision making, the franchise has positioned itself for something it has never seen before. The ability to sign two max contract free agents, media buzz, and an excited youthful core ready to play.
With all these pieces in play, the only thing this Clippers team needs to do is continue to defy expectations, which they’ve already done. Their joyous and successful play on the court has already created a coverage they weren’t expecting. Whether or not the team wins or loses, they need to continue to play like winners. That’s the key to success.