Is this officially Lou Williams’ team? Now that Tobias Harris is gone, Lou is the top remaining scorer, and along with Danilo Gallinari, will have to take the reins of leading this misfit bunch of Clipper players to the playoffs. Or not...you know for pick purposes, I guess. It could be true that the Clippers have the talent, the coaching and the light schedule the rest of the way to make the postseason. But this still is a team without a star in the West, and has a penchant for being inconsistent.
With Lou and Gallo both averaging 18+ a game, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander getting over the rookie wall, new additions Landry Shamet, Ivica Zubac and JaMychal Green playing really well so far, and Montrezl Harrell continuing to dominate 2nd unit bigs, this team doesn’t look to be punting. Despite the upstart Sacramento Kings and the struggling Lakers on their tails, the Clippers control their own destiny with 23 games to go.
ESPN has the Clips at 60% odds to make the playoffs while Fanduel has them at +145 odds to make it into the final 8 in the West. This is surprisingly behind the other team in the City of Angels, who FD has at +100. FiveThirtyEight has the Clippers at a 61% chance to make it in, so from projections based statistically adept machines, the Clips have more than a puncher’s chance to get in. Clips Nation seems to be more in favor of the Clips trying for the playoffs rather than keeping a pick between 12-14. Honestly, neither outcome is bad, and the front office knew this after trading away their best scorer. The consensus seems to be that fans want the Clips to play hard the rest of the season, and if they make it…great. If they don’t…fine. With big time free agency aspirations this summer, playoff experience could help, but so could a young lottery pick. Comment below what you want L.A. to do, Clips Nation.
Without further ado, let’s see where NBA media members have the Clips ranked during the All-Star break.
This week: 14th, Last week: 14th
Notes: The Clippers won’t say it aloud, but most within the front office wouldn’t mind being edged out at the finish line for a playoff spot, thus allowing them to retain their first-round draft pick this June. In the meantime, the top priority is the continuing development of rookie point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The Clips would love to be able to enter free-agency pitches not only with cap space, but evidence that Gilgeous-Alexander is a point guard with the skills to lead an elite, contending team.
This week: 14th, Last week: 14th
Notes: Lou Williams was ready to make up for the loss of Tobias Harris, averaging 30 points (in just 28.1 minutes!) in the Clippers’ first three games since Harris was dealt to Philadelphia. Landry Shamet made such an impression in his first two games with his new team that he replaced Garrett Temple in the starting lineup in the Clippers’ last game before the break. Shamet shot 9-for-16 from 3-point range over the three games and the Clippers scored more than 125 points per 100 possessions in 58 minutes with Williams and Shamet on the floor together. The Clippers’ remaining schedule is relatively easy and home-heavy, but they’ll play four of their first five post-break games on the road.
This week: 15h, Last week: 18th
Notes: L.A.’s six-game, 11-day road trip mercifully ended with a 130-120 loss to the Wolves on Monday. Lou Williams did what he could, scoring 45 points off the bench in that one, but the Clips had to settle for a 3-3 trip. Upon returning home, Williams posted 30 points and 10 assists to snuff out the Suns 134-107.
The schedule will stay rough after the break, as the Clippers will play four of their next five games away from home.
This week: 14th, Last week 15th
Notes: The Clippers have alternated losses and wins in eight consecutive games. If that trend continues with a road loss in Memphis on Friday, we’ll probably have to reevaluate this ranking.
This week: 13th, Last week: 15th
Notes: The Clippers have a favorable schedule (one of the eight easiest) remaining. Believing in this team over someone like the Lakers or Kings definitely makes sense because of that. We just don’t really know where a lot of the consistency will come from with this Clippers squad. They got down 20-plus against Boston and came back. They got down 20-plus against Minnesota and missed out on the comeback. Their resiliency is impressive but it’s also something they can’t keep relying on. Soon, they need to get out in front of teams and weather the storms. Their lineup combinations need time to play together. Clippers will probably be just fine but making the playoffs will fall on the shoulders of guys like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.