Ladies and gentleman, we’re a day away from witnessing the best Clippers team ever assembled on paper. Well, maybe we’re actually about 10 games away from that as Paul George gets back to 100% after offseason surgery to both shoulders. The fact remains, the Clippers were already good last year, and added two top 10 players in the league. Everyone in #clippernation should be ecstatic about this year and what the future could potentially hold for this long beleaguered franchise.
Along with the two-way beasts that are Kawhi and PG, the Clippers outfitted their roster with returning pieces and a few sneaky-good tertiary pickups. They received a perennial playoff starting wing in Moe Harkless and a first-round pick for nothing (that helped bring Kawhi and PG over). They signed an all-around tough guy and underrated guard in Rodney McGruder, after picking him up for free at the end of last season. They re-signed JaMychal Green, Patrick Beverley, and Ivica Zubac to team friendly-ish deals that allows them to keep up the momentum built late last year. They also drafted two Florida State alums, in Mfiondu Kabengele and Terance Mann, both of whom impressed in Summer League and one, in Mann, that will more than likely see immediate playing time despite only being the 48th pick. All of this is a testament to the culture that Steve Ballmer has built since taking over in the Summer of 2014, as well as a testament to the smarts and unity of a front office led by Lawrence Frank, Jerry West, and Michael Winger.
All signs are pointing to a successful season for the Clippers. In an 82 game slate, a lot can go right, and a lot can go wrong. With the way the Clips are built and the foundation they have set, let’s hope the latter continues to be true, and that this is the most successful season yet. Let’s see what some members of the NBA media think in this first installment of Clips Nation’s Power Rankings Watch, 2019-2020 edition.
This week: 1
Notes: Breakout candidate: Landry Shamet
“Shamet shot 45% from beyond the arc last season with the Clippers, and he will help open up the floor for offseason acquisitions Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Now that Shamet has more solid footing in the league, the No. 26 overall pick in 2018 has an opportunity to help the new-look Clippers win a title -- and show the rest of the league what it missed in the process.” - Nick Friedell
This week: 1
Notes: “Best case: Kawhi Leonard makes a legitimate MVP run and Paul George’s shoulder is healthy by Thanksgiving. Sixty wins is certainly in play; this team could run away from the pack if the Lakers and Rockets don’t deliver.
Worst case: George was seriously hampered down the stretch last season, and we still don’t know exactly when he’ll return. Leonard hasn’t logged 70 games since 2016-17. With both stars potentially free agents in 2021, the clock could quickly start ticking without a Finals appearance.” - Michael Shapiro
This week: 1
Notes: “Talent-wise, they’re arguably the best and deepest team in the NBA. The most regular-season wins in franchise history (58 or more) — and perhaps the first championship — is certainly in the cards.” - AJ Neuharth-Keusch
This week: 2 (The Lakers are at 1. Wack)
Notes: “Kawhi Leonard played 22 minutes in the Clippers’ preseason finale, a good sign after there was talk that he could sit out the entire preseason. He looks ready to lead a deep, talented squad that will be very difficult to beat to start the year, even without Paul George.” - Colin Ward-Heninger
This week: 1
Notes: “At full strength, the Clippers will have a starting lineup that features two of the league’s best players, along with a second unit that features two of the league’s top reserves. We’ll see how much Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell play together, and if that group is best complemented with perimeter defense (Patrick Beverley), shooting (Landry Shamet), versatility (Maurice Harkless), or another big (JaMychal Green). That coach Doc Rivers has so many options beyond a pair of elite, two-way stars is why the Clippers should be the championship favorites as things stand. But it remains to be seen how much their best groups play together in the regular season with Leonard likely on another load management program and with George (after two shoulder surgeries) not necessarily ready for the start of the season.” - John Schuhmann