The Los Angeles Clippers’ championship hopes for this upcoming 2021-22 campaign remain up in the air with Kawhi Leonard’s indefinite status for the season. The 2-time NBA champion sustained a partially torn ACL in his right knee and has no timetable for a return. Without Leonard, the Clippers are far from being championship contenders. It may be best for them to wait for their superstar forward to come back at full strength.
Nonetheless, L.A. doesn’t seem to have any intentions to mail in this year as Paul George looks to lead his troops this upcoming campaign. There’s no question the Clippers are still a playoff team, but it will definitely prove difficult to compete for a title.
Now, let’s consider this rather interesting scenario. What if the Clippers could take any player from the 1990’s, put him through a time machine, and slot him into their lineup this season. Who would be the perfect star that L.A. can use on its roster right now? Here are a couple of them.
1. Michael Jordan
Assuming Leonard would be out the entire season, just who could be the perfect replacement for the 2-time Finals MVP? Well, how about the 1990’s legend Leonard was compared to during his magical 2019 playoffs run when he led the Toronto Raptors to their historic title run?
Yes, the Clippers aren’t getting cute with their pick and are going straight for The GOAT, Michael Jeffrey Jordan. Of course, Jordan would probably be the de facto pick for every team with this fantasy situation. Nonetheless, this pick makes sense particularly for the Clippers given their injury situation with The Klaw. In a lot of ways, Leonard was playing the Jordan role for the Clippers anyway. So, there’s really no reason to look elsewhere.
MJ and PG13 would definitely be a deadly pairing of elite two-way superstars, the same way the Leonard-George tandem are in today’s game and the Jordan-Pippen duo were throughout their dynastic run in the 1990’s.
2. Hakeem Olajuwon
Hakeem Olajuwon was arguably the 2nd best player throughout the 1990’s as he led the Houston Rockets to back-to-back NBA titles in 1994 and 1995. The Dream would not be the “replacement” Leonard that Michael Jordan is. But he addresses one of their biggest weaknesses as a team and that is having a legitimate interior force in the middle.
Olajuwon should be a massive upgrade at center for the Clippers. Sure, Serge Ibaka and Ivica Zubac are solid, quality NBA big men. But Olajuwon is simply on a different stratosphere compared to those two. Zubac isn’t quite a consistent presence down low that could play heavy minutes up front, while Ibaka is coming off a back injury. Olajuwon, assuming we’re taking the 1994-95 version, is right smack at the peak of his powers.
With lengthy and versatile perimeter defenders led by with Paul George, Olajuwon would only fortify L.A.’s already imposing defense. He would instantly be the Clippers’ answer for Anthony Davis on the other side of the Battle for L.A. rivalry.
Offensively, he would give the Clippers an interior presence they have never had before. Olajuwon is obviously one of the most gifted offensive big men in the history of the league, with his array of post moves, elite “feet work”, and of course, his patented “Dream Shake.”