The past decade has been the best in Clippers history, and it’s not particularly close. But even though the best teams have come in the last 10 years, does that mean the best Clippers players are also from this era?
To find out, we gave the following task to our Clips Nation staff: Design the all-time best Clippers lineup. Here’s what they came up with.
Josh Sexton: At the point I’ll have to go with Mr. 94 Feet himself, Patrick Beverley. It’s strange because I was such a huge Chris Paul fan back in his L.A. days, and there’s probably an extent to which his behaviour since has put me off, but the sadness of seeing Pat leave eclipsed the sadness of CP leaving for me. He was one of the cultural architects of this team, brought the intensity every night and was an underrated shooter to go alongside his defensive greatness. At the two, I’d really like to pick Lou Will but I suppose since it’s technically a starting lineup I’ll have to save him for sixth man, so let’s say Paul George. PG was one of my favourite players in the league before he came to the 213, and that love for him has only been strengthened by what he’s done in a Clippers uniform.
At small forward, there’s only really one option in my eyes and that’s Kawhi Leonard. There’s a strong argument that The Klaw is one of the best players we’ve ever been fortunate enough to witness and hopefully he gets to have the ultimate impact he had on Toronto for his hometown team. At the four, again there’s not much contest for me, it’s Blake Griffin. Blake’s high-flying game brought the electricity to the arena so often, and when you think back to his time with the Clippers, it’s hard to think of anything but him pulling out highlight plays like it was nothing.
At center I’ll go with DeAndre Jordan, although Ivica Zubac has been knocking on this door and may yet make a breakthrough. But DJ brought that same intensity as Blake and was also capable of making the impossible look possible in front of his own rim. This current era is my favourite, but the Lob City Era will always have a special place in my heart.
Matthew Scammahorn: Chris Paul, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Blake Griffin, Elton Brand. 6th man: Lou Williams, 7th man: Jamal Crawford
I think CP3, PG13, and Kawhi are locks, but I think having the smaller front court would work well in today’s NBA. Blake can offer explosive, athletic offense and finishing while brand can work more traditionally in the post while anchoring the defense. I also have to add a sixth man, and Lou Williams would be perfect, but a seventh man in Crawford would make it even more exciting.
Will Bjarnar: Chris Paul, Randy Smith, Kawhi Leonard, Blake Griffin, Bob McAdoo
I think most of this is pretty self-explanatory. Chris Paul is one of the best point guards in NBA history, one who spent some of his most formative years in Clipper colors. Kawhi Leonard is the only current Clipper to make this squad, and he’s here for obvious reasons (his status will become even more solidified if, at some point as a Clipper, he brings the franchise a championship). Blake Griffin was an integral part of the team’s return to relevance in the early-to-mid 2010s, and he’s probably the most exciting player in franchise history. Bob McAdoo — remembered best as a legendary journeyman — spent his first five years in the NBA as a member of the Buffalo Braves; he was the league scoring champ in three-straight seasons during that tenure. Doo feels like, perhaps, the most obvious choice of all.
Then again, that honor might belong to the player that those plagued by recency bias may neglect to even have cross their mind. Randy Smith, who spent the first seven years of his career in Buffalo (1971-1978), made two All-Star teams, and leads the franchise in points scored (12,735), two-point field goals (5,211, fitting, since most of his time with the “Clippers” came when the three-point line didn’t exist), minutes played (24,393), and more. Smith is probably the Clipper of Clippers, the one to leave the door open for the rest to walk through. Think Field of Dreams, but set it at Buffalo Memorial Auditorium, and make it Randy Smith instead of Shoeless Joe Jackson. I can see it now. “Is this heaven?” “No… it’s Buffalo.”
Brent Yoo: Chris Paul, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Blake Griffin, Bob McAdoo
Picture Chris Paul throwing a lob off a pick-and-roll into a jumping Bob McAdoo, and the subsequent electrifying finish at the rim. With a total of 34 all-star appearances by this starting five, the all-time Clipper team would be a sight to watch, to say the least. The team’s floor general Chris Paul will not only set up easy buckets for the team’s athletic bigs and sharp shooters, but also create for himself when he needs to: he averaged just under 20 points and 10 assists in Clipper colors.
At the two, Paul George is one of the smoothest players to ever step afoot on the hardwood, putting his defender on skates whenever he has the ball. On the defensive end, he is known for his suffocating presence just like that of his current partner in crime, Kawhi Leonard. The two-time NBA Champion and Finals MVP will be the team’s first option who can find the bottom of the net from anywhere and any moment on the court (remember his dagger to eliminate the 76ers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals?). The frontcourt pair of Blake Griffin and McAdoo will be one of the most athletic pairs to ever play together. Throw anything up in the air, either one of them will fly high and finish with an exclamation mark. When looking at their respective best seasons, McAdoo and Griffin combined for close to 58 points and 19 rebounds per game. While it’s hard to tell how this team will do against other all-time teams, Clipper fans should be confident with the amount of talent this all-time team has.
Joshua Mei: As much as it pains me to admit, my all time best Clippers starting lineup may have to be without my two personal favorite Clippers, Ivica Zubac and Deandre Jordan. A pursuit of modernity and admittance into Ty Lue’s offensive lethality further combines with my own youth and subsequent unfamiliarity with any Clips team pre-2012, manifesting in my starting lineup of Chris Paul, JJ Redick, Paul George, Kawhi, and Blake.
To this day, I think that Lob City was one of the most talented teams I’ve ever seen. Here, Chris still runs the show, JJ is still one of the deadliest off-ball threats and long range snipers, and Blake is still the high-flyer, the underrated passer, the ultimate burst of athleticism. The insertion of Paul George and Kawhi finally gives CP3 weapons on the wing, thus filling the sole valid weakness of that team. And though I’d love to have DJ’s defensive presence on the interior or easygoing attitude in the locker room, this team is more talented, more versatile, and more future-proof, provided the chemistry stayed intact.
Then again, if you wanted me to build you a team that would love playing together, and be fun to root for, I’d probably throw out a lineup more similar to an amalgamation of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lou Will, Tobias Harris, Nic Batum, and DJ. But if you wanted me to make a team that could win you a game (fate of the universe on the line, martians have the death beam pointed at Earth, yada yada), I want CP3, JJ, PG, Kawhi, and Blake.