It’s November 28 and the Clippers are the best team in basketball. Some of you might have seen that coming, but the reality is far from what you expected.
No, this is not the Los Angeles Clippers and, no, this is not even the NBA. Instead, this is the Ontario Clippers and this the NBA’s G-League Showcase. We can still celebrate that, though, right? OK, hear me out. There’s actually a lot happening in Ontario that fans in L.A. can get themselves excited about.
Moussa Diabate is reason number one; averaging a double-double through nine games with 18.8 points and 10.3 rebounds, making him a top 10 player based on the latter metric. The Frenchman is showing the kind of energy on the court that made the front office feel particularly high on him, despite picking him up at a fairly lowly 43 in this past summer’s NBA Draft.
The Clippers have been notorious throughout NBA history for not making the most of their draft picks (some obvious exceptions aside), but they have started to tidy up that reputation in recent years with some clever picks using their limited draft capital. Diabate could well be the latest low-risk, high-reward pickup for the organization if his time in the development league is anything to go by.
Another of their recent draft picks that the franchise was particularly high on was Jason Preston. The now 23-year-old was picked up at 33 in the 2021 draft before suffering a season-ending injury just before training camp of that same summer. It was a cruel blow for a player who had bet on himself to forge a career in basketball when few others believed in his ability coming out of high school.
His basketball brain, part-crafted by years of watching and blogging about the Detroit Pistons, has reportedly been raved about by members of the Clippers’ coaching staff. He’s now showing that a regular fixture in Ontario, averaging an impressive all-round statline of 12.9 points, 5.6 rebounds and 6.7 assists, while shooting 50.6 percent from the field and 36.1 percent from deep.
Elsewhere on the team, Brandon Boston Jr. has been absent with a thigh injury picked up during a 37-point display against the South Bay Lakers at the start of the month, but his return to the court will surely only strengthen a roster that is looking really impressive at this early stage.
The slightly sad thing about the G-League is that teams are at the mercy of NBA teams swooping down for their players, so success in Ontario is more than likely to be short-lived. However, in terms of providing a conveyor belt of talent to serve themselves first and foremost, this appears to be another area of basketball operations that the Clippers have been getting right.