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Matt Barnes claims it’s the Clippers’ championship to lose this year

Matt Barnes, Kawhi Leonard, Clippers

Former NBA forward Matt Barnes believes the championship is the Los Angeles Clippers’ to lose this season.

After signing Kawhi Leonard and trading for Paul George this summer, the Clippers are legitimate title contenders for the first time in franchise history.

The Clippers won 48 games last season and took the Golden State Warriors to six games in the first round of the playoffs. They did all that without having a single All-Star on the team.

Now, the Clippers have two superstars in Leonard and George joining a team which has a great supporting cast of Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley, Montrezl Harrell, Landry Shamet and Maurice Harkless.

While the Clippers have good depth and coaching, they will only win the championship if Leonard and George are healthy once the playoffs start. George is recovering from two offseason shoulder surgeries, while Leonard still feels effects from his quad and knee issues at times.

Last season with the Toronto Raptors, Leonard averaged 26.6 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.3 assists. He shot 49.6 percent from the field, 37.1 percent from beyond the arc and 85.4 percent from the free-throw line en route to winning his second Finals MVP.

George, meanwhile, put up 28.0 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists on the Oklahoma City Thunder while shooting 43.8 percent from the floor, 38.6 percent from the 3-point line and 83.9 percent from the charity stripe. The six-time All-Star is expected to make his Clippers debut in late October or early November.