A year ago, the Clippers were the darlings of the NBA offseason after signing Kawhi Leonard away from the defending champs and cashing in their war chest to pair him with Paul George. They made the splashiest move of the summer and were thus the favorites heading into the regular season.
Now, the Clippers are arguably better suited to make noise in the postseason. They have a more cohesive top eight, and they addressed some of their playmaking deficit with the addition of Luke Kennard. However, none of their moves were particularly noisy. That, combined with the team’s collapse in last year’s playoffs, means that the hype train has left the station — at least according to an anonymous poll conducted by ESPN of team executives.
In this year’s preseason poll, Leonard is no longer regarded as the league’s best player. The reigning Finals MVP LeBron James has usurped that crown, much like Leonard did a year ago. Nikola Jokic even earned more projected regular-season MVP votes than Leonard and George combined.
Not a single executive thought that the Clippers had the best offseason despite hiring Ty Lue and bringing in Serge Ibaka. Instead, that honor went to the Lakers, followed by votes for the Hawks, 76ers, and Thunder.
However, in the most important poll, two of the eight executives did pick the Clippers to win the West, and one of them has this team as the NBA champion. The Clippers might not be the overwhelming favorite anymore, but that label never really suited them. They still have some believers.
More news for Tuesday:
- In a truly strange piece of news, a man named Johnny Wilkes has filed a lawsuit against Jerry West, claiming The Logo owes him $2.5 million for helping the Clippers sign Kawhi Leonard. You’re going to want to read the details on this one.
- James Harden has officially reported to the Rockets and is scheduled to play in Houston’s preseason game today.
- Ryan Snellings argues that if Harden is traded, the Clippers should have their eyes on the Rockets role players, specifically P.J. Tucker.
- Shaun Powell previews the Clippers season for NBA.com, and introduces a new contender for the starting five.
- Jovan Buha has five observations from the Clippers preseason thus far.