Back in July, the Los Angeles Clippers sent shockwaves through the NBA when they made two of the biggest transactions of the league’s busy offseason. They signed free agent Kawhi Leonard and completed a trade for his fellow superstar Paul George to completely transform the look of their team in an instant.
This came hot on the heels of the Clippers surprising a lot of people during the 2018-19 NBA season. The Clippers’ record was 48-34 last season, which helped them earn a berth in the NBA Playoffs and set the stage for their big summer.
But despite all of this, there are some NBA fans who still believe the Clippers’ hometown rival, the Los Angeles Lakers, are going to have a better 2019-20 season than them. The Lakers made a trade of their own this summer and added Anthony Davis to a roster that already included LeBron James, which gives them a leg-up on the Clippers in the eyes of some people.
When everything is all said and done, though, it looks like the Clippers’ record should be better than the Lakers record at the end of the season. Here are six reasons why.
1. The Clippers Have a More Complete Roster
The Clippers and Lakers both have strong rosters that should have them sitting at or near the top of the Western Conference standings at the end of the 2019-20 season. But the Lakers lost a key piece of their puzzle in August when projected starter DeMarcus Cousins tore his ACL.
The Clippers, meanwhile, have all the puzzle pieces they could ever ask for, even after gutting a portion of their team to land George in a trade. They have:
- A formidable starting point guard in Patrick Beverley
- A sharpshooting shooting guard in Landry Shamet
- A do-everything small forward in Kawhi Leonard
- An incredible two-way power forward in Paul George
- A rim-protecting center in Ivica Zubac
- A perennial Sixth Man of the Year candidate in Lou Williams
- And a bench that consists of solid role players like Montrezl Harrell and Maurice Harkless
It’s a much more complete roster than the one the Lakers are going to put out on the floor every night.
2. They Have a More Clear-Cut Identity
The Clippers are obviously not going to be the same exact team that they were last season when they took the Golden State Warriors to six games in the opening round of the NBA Playoffs. But that team helped lay down a strong foundation for the one that they have now.
Players like Beverley and Harrell turned the Clippers into a tough, gritty team that wouldn’t back down from anyone. Even though the team knew it was often overmatched by teams like the Warriors, they still went toe-to-toe with them and promised to put up a fight.
And that shouldn’t change too much at all with the addition of Leonard and George. Both of those players are very defensive-minded (more on that in a second!) and don’t seem to mind taking the hard-nosed approach to the game of basketball. It should help this Clippers team establish an identity for themselves quickly.
The Lakers, on the other hand, are going to have to spend at least the first month of the season trying to find out exactly who they are. It’s yet another reason why the Clippers should prove to be the stronger L.A. team this NBA season.
3. They Have a Head Coach Who Is a Proven Winner
The Clippers record since Doc Rivers took over the head coaching duties for the team in 2013 is 307-185. Despite losing superstar players like Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and Chris Paul over the years, Rivers has stayed consistent with the Clippers.
Consistency is something that’s been hard to come by for Lakers coaches in recent years. Since 2013, they’ve had four different head coaches, including Mike D’Antoni, Byron Scott, Luke Walton, and the newly-appointed Frank Vogel.
This gives the Clippers the clear edge in the coaching category for now.
4. They Have More Solid Three-Point Shooting
The Clippers and Lakers were on two opposite sides of the spectrum when it came to three-point shooting last season.
As a team, the Clippers made almost 39% of their three-pointers during their 2018-19 campaign—good for the second-highest three-point shooting percentage in the entire league. It’s worth noting that they also took the third-fewest threes per game, but they made the ones that they did take count.
It was a much different story for the Lakers. They landed in the middle of the pack as far as three-pointers attempted per game. But their collective three-point shooting percentage was second-worst in the league at just a shade over 33%.
And it looks like both teams could have repeat performances this season. The addition of George should bring the Clippers’ total number of three-point attempts up this season. It should also keep them near the top of the league with regards to three-point shooting percentage.
The Lakers, meanwhile, will likely struggle again in the three-point department. The addition of Danny Green could bring their average up slightly. But they still don’t look like a team that’s going to put up a lot of points from behind the arc.
5. They Have Better Defenders
One of the reasons why the Lakers hired Vogel in the offseason is to improve the team’s defense. They finished in the bottom half of the league in team defense last season, and the hope is that they’ll get at least a little bit better in that category this season.
Clippers fans won’t have to hope for their team to get better on the defensive side of the ball. They were already a solid defensive team, and they will 100% be an even better defensive team this season after adding Leonard and George to the mix.
There are already people comparing the defensive pairing of Leonard and George to the defensive pairing of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Need we say more?
6. They Have a Chip on Their Shoulder
In spite of all the big changes the Clippers made during the offseason, there are still more than a few people who have pointed out that L.A. will always be a Lakers town.
That might be true, especially when you consider all the history the Lakers have on their side. But for now, all the “Lakers town” talk surrounding the Lakers and Clippers could work in the Clippers favor.
Despite being one of the favorites to win the NBA title this year, the Clippers are likely still going to have a huge chip on their shoulders. And that could take them to new heights and make them the superior L.A. team by the time the season is over.
The Clippers’ Record Could Very Well Be the Best Record in the NBA
The Clippers’ record during the 2018-19 NBA season helped them squeak into the NBA Playoffs. But we highly doubt they’re going to have to worry about squeaking into the postseason this year.
The Clippers should have a better record than the Lakers and every other NBA team once April rolls around. As long as they stay healthy and gel as a unit when the season starts, they have a chance to do something really special this year.
Buy tickets to see the Clippers at the Staples Center this season so that you don’t miss out on witnessing a changing of the guard in Los Angeles.