One of the more interesting questions heading into this season is who the Clippers will start. Patrick Beverley, a stalwart of the starting five over the past four years, is no longer in Los Angeles, and the Clippers tweaked with their starting lineup in the postseason to great effect, giving the coaching staff a multitude of options.
Instead of swinging for the fences, Ty Lue is keeping things simple. He told reporters at the first day of training camp that the Clippers are going to start the season with Reggie Jackson, Eric Bledsoe, Paul George, Marcus Morris, and Ivica Zubac in the first five. That is the closest amalgam to the starting lineup the Clippers closed the regular season with in 2020-21, but with Bledsoe in Kawhi Leonard’s place.
The quartet of George, Jackson, Morris, and Zubac played 748 possessions together last year during the regular season, outscoring opponents by 5.0 points per 100 possessions, per Cleaning the Glass. During the playoffs, they were outscored by 6.5 points per 100 possessions (in 152 possessions), struggling even when Leonard was available.
Bledsoe is the most accomplished of all the potential fifth starters, even if Terance Mann presents more upside. Furthermore, Lue has shown a commitment to staggering his lead offensive creators, so not having a “traditional” point guard coming off the bench isn’t much of an issue; to that point, Bledsoe and Jackson aren’t pure points, anyway.
Lue has also been willing to adjust when necessary. He famously had 10-game trial periods for his rotations during the previous regular season and will presumably be equally flexible going forward. Should Mann — or even Luke Kennard — force his hand, changes will be made. For now, this is the veteran group that will be starting things off for the Clippers.
More news for Wednesday:
- The goggles are back, and Reggie Jackson sounds as excited as any Clipper for the season to start.
- Eric Bledsoe is also back in Los Angeles, this time playing for a vastly different organization.
- Former Clipper Malik Fitts, who had a cameo with this year’s Summer League team, is on the Utah Jazz training camp roster.
- Marc Stein neatly sums up media day.
- The NBA has released its protocols for vaccinated and unvaccinated players.
- Russell Westbrook claims he didn’t want to come to the Clippers; the Clippers reportedly never wanted Westbrook. Much ado about nothing, but potentially another layer for the Battle of L.A.