Much has been said about the Clippers potentially wasting their lottery pick after making the playoffs. The topic resurfaced recently, as Clamp City is slated to face the defending champion Golden State Warriors in the first round. It may be the worst possible scenario for the Clippers, but it’s definitely not a wasted opportunity.
Building a winning culture for the young players on the Clippers matters; three of the Clippers’ starters are 22 years old or younger. In fact, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Landry Shamet will become the only pair of rookie guards in the last 15 seasons to start 20+ regular games together for a team that would go on to make the playoffs. Those type of accomplishments build a culture at a very young age. The Clippers want to build a team of players that want to work hard and win, and that ethos is how they won 48 games without having a single All-Star.
This Ivica Zubac quote is the perfect example of why the Clippers made the right decision in pushing for the playoffs.
“In my two and a half years with the Lakers, I didn’t win much games,” Zubac said. “So winning all these games, it feels great. It got me looking differently at basketball. I don’t care about personal stats or whatever. Winning is the most important thing.”
Being in a winning culture changes a player: it makes them more selfless. It’s the difference between a disappointing, talented team, and an over-performing, hard-working team.
The most obvious reason for making the playoffs is the experience, the feeling of knowing how important each basket is. Knowing how to get there, and actually getting there, can make a player that much more focused on getting there again.
“I remember watching playoff commercials like it was yesterday, so I’m excited,” Shamet said.
Do not let anyone else convince that the Clippers making the playoffs is a bad thing, even if they get swept. The playoffs are a completely different brand of basketball, one that 14 other NBA teams will not get the opportunity to experience.
Whatever happens in the postseason will only make this young Clipper team stronger for next season, far more than tanking ever could.