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Tyronn Lue reveals Clippers’ surprising starting lineup

Tyronn Lue, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Reggie Jackson, Terance Mann, Clippers

Tyronn Lue and LA Clippers started training camp in San Diego, California on Tuesday afternoon. The team made the two hour trip to San Diego State University, Kawhi Leonard‘s alma mater.

Lue is entering his second season as the head coach of the Clippers, and is entering camp with the same core to the one that made the lengthy playoff run a few months ago. That is, with the exception of Kawhi Leonard and Patrick Beverley.

Leonard traveled with the team to San Diego, but isn’t participating in most of training camp. Instead, he’ll continue to rehab his right knee while listening in and pitching ideas to the coaching staff. Beverley had a fantastic playoff run but was ultimately traded this past offseason in a deal that brought Eric Bledsoe back to Los Angeles.

“I think the biggest thing is Kawhi being out, but other than that, I think we’re going to run the same way,” Lue said prior to the Clippers’ first practice. “We’re not going to try to kill our guys, I know this is like the shortest offseason in NBA history, in any sports history, for that matter. So we gotta be smart, but we also got to get our work in, we got to work on our execution. You know when you’re missing a guy like Kawhi, you got to be really, really good at executing. And that’s what we got to work on this season.”

Leonard and Beverley are out. Justise Winslow and Bledsoe are in.

So how does Tyronn Lue approach training camp when most the team with the exception of two are familiar with the system?

“That’s the toughest thing about training camp, because you don’t know if you’re going too fast, you’re going too slow, if guys are picking it up,” Lue said prior to the Clippers’ first practice. “And with the addition of Bledsoe and Justise, you know we really got to slow down. But outside those guys, the other guys pretty much know what we’re trying to do. So for those two guys, we got to give them extra reps and try to get them up to speed as fast as possible.”

With Kawhi Leonard out to start the year, the Clippers have a massive void to fill on both ends. It’s a void that no one player can fill on his own, and Lue is going to tinker with lineups once again this preseason to see which players fit best with one another.

“To start [the preseason], we are going to try out Reggie, Bledsoe, PG, Marcus and Zu. That is how we are going to start the season, take a look at it today and see how it looks. Of course, we are going to change lineups throughout the course of practices, but that is my vision right now and kind of go from there and see what happens.”

That means the very early rotation as of right now will look like this:

PG – Reggie Jackson – Terance Mann
SG – Eric Bledsoe – Luke Kennard
SF – Paul George – Justise Winslow
PF – Marcus Morris – Nicolas Batum
C – Ivica Zubac – Serge Ibaka

Tyronn Lue believes that, by essentially swapping Bledsoe in to Patrick Beverley place, his Clippers will have a good amount of shooting, defense, and playmaking on the court at any time. Terance Mann made sense to start for the Clippers during the playoffs in must-win situations, but over the course of an 82-game regular, Mann’s energy and skillset would best be suited for the second unit.

When asked about Bledsoe’s fit alongside him, Reggie Jackson made sure to issue a minor correction.

“I should probably ask him how he envisions me fitting in,” Jackson joked. “I mean he’s the elder statesman as a Clipper.

Since the NBA began tracking drives per game in the 2013-14 season, Eric Bledsoe has routinely been among the top 20 players in drives to the rim. He led the league with 17.4 drives per game during the 2015-16 season and has hovered near the top with around 12-13 drives per game over this stretch.

Tyronn Lue and Reggie Jackson expect Bledsoe to fit in perfectly thanks to the pressure he’ll put on the rim with his speed, size, and athleticism.

“I see him fitting in amazing, especially since we play five out. He’s already come in, he’s been aggressive, he’s been attacking seams, he’s making plays for guys, I”m just happy he seems healthy. He’s been a hell of a player in this league and he’s had an 11-plus year career for a reason and when he’s healthy he’s special and we’re happy to have him here. Great spirit. I think he’s going to fit right in and we need him to do what he does, honestly we need a guy who can really get downhill for us and attack guys, it will help us getting in foul trouble, it will help get the ball hopping, he does a great job probing, making plays.”

The Clippers are scheduled to train in San Diego until Sunday. They’ll return home for their Monday night preseason opener against the Denver Nuggets.