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2 early-season needs the Clippers need to address via trade

Clippers

The Los Angeles Clippers are fresh off a surprising loss to the Chicago Bulls earlier this week but they are still tied for the second spot in the Western Conference.

What needs should the Clippers address before the February 6th trade deadline so they would stay among the Association’s elite?

Add a Seven-Footer

Ivica Zubac is the only Clippers player listed above six-foot-eleven. The center is a decent player averaging 8.1 points and 6.6 rebounds in 16.6 minutes but he has never averaged more than 20 minutes per game in his career.

Sure, you can make the case that the Clippers can get by with small ball. They play various forwards like Montrezl Harrell, JaMychal Green and others at the center position. L.A.  is now No. 2 in the NBA for rebounds per game so it is working.

However, the Clippers rank only 11th in blocks per game. One of the reasons the Lakers hold the No. 1 record in the league is their length and athleticism has them as the best team in terms of blocked shots per game. Besides Anthony Davis, the Lakers have two centers who can both rebound, block shots and run the floor effectively with JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard. The Clippers should look to add a seven footer who can help them matchup against their Staples center rivals down the line.

Don’t forget Marc Gasol’s defensive impact for the Toronto Raptors in the NBA finals as a true center. The Clippers should look to make a midseason acquisition for a true defensive center too. Gasol is one name they could pursue. Thunder center Steven Adams was on the block too. Either player makes sense.

Still, Willie Cauley-Stein is a bit more realistic given his contract and status on an underperforming Warriors team. He averages 7.9 points and 6.4 rebounds in 22.7 minutes per game. Ian Mahinmi is a bit older but also could come for a bargain as he is averaging 7.6 points and 5 rebounds for the Wizards.

Facilitating Point Guard who can Shoot

The Clippers are 21st in assists per game. L.A. could afford to add a facilitating guard before the trade deadline, preferably one who can shoot, gives their offense another element. That way Lou Williams, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George aren’t always taking turns running the offense and creating shots for themselves or others.

Jrue Holiday is on the block and he makes a lot of sense given that he is from SoCal and played at UCLA. Nonetheless, he is making over $26 million while only shooting .34 percent from three-point line and averaging only 6.8 assists. Those aren’t bad numbers but his contract over the next two seasons make him a hard acquisition.

L.A. is also 13th in three-pointers attempted and 16th in percentage with 35.7 percent made per game.That’s why a player like Goran Dragic makes more sense. He is averaging 15.9 points and shooting 40 percent from three-point off the bench. He is an expiring contract as well.

Spurs guard Patty Mills also shoots over 41 percent from three but doesn’t get a ton of assists. He does know Kawhi Leonard though. Magic guard D.J. Augustin shot over 40 percent the past two seasons but is barely shooting 30 this year. He still averages 4.8 assists which warrants some consideration.

Bonus Upgrade Forward Depth

Otherwise, L.A. could also afford to upgrade their forward depth behind the forever load managed Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, who missed the first month of the season. That’s why they were connected to Andre Iguodala and Marcus Morris.

Morris would give them some shooting punch as he is connecting on 47 percent from deep per game on almost six attempts. While Igoudala won a finals MVP once upon a time because of his role on defense and facilitating the second unit. L.A. could use all of that but they are probably more luxury additions than team needs to address before the deadline like point guard and center depth.

Stay tuned to what the Clippers do before the deadline. The passing of the Dec. 14 deadline makes it even easier to make a trade since players who signed deals in the offseason can now get traded.