The Los Angeles Lakers may have traded for Anthony Davis and the Brooklyn Nets may have added Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, but it was the Los Angeles Clippers who stole the show this offseason, signing Kawhi Leonard and swinging a deal for Paul George.
So yeah, about that defense…
This could very well be the best defensive units we have ever seen.
Leonard. George. Beverley. Montrezl Harrell.
Just imagine those four being on the floor at the same time and the amount of havoc and destruction they would wreak on opposing offenses.
The amount of pure defensive talent and versatility in that group is just astounding, with Leonard being the best all-around defensive player in the league, George not far behind, Beverley being an absolute demon in terms of toughness and hustle and Harrell representing a potential future All-NBA defender, a young, long and athletic forward capable of guarding almost anyone.
And that’s just the thing.
The Clippers are going to be able to switch everything. They will blow up pick-and-rolls. They will laugh at opponents trying to get mismatches. They will fly in passing lanes. They will be all over the place.
We haven’t even really mentioned Green here, either, as he is another forward who, while he may not have the defensive chops of the other players, can easily switch on the perimeter and can defend multiple positions.
And if the Clippers end up seeing the Lakers in the playoffs? They will have numerous answers for LeBron James, possibly more than any other team James has ever faced. Leonard may be the best James defender in basketball, and George, Harrell and Green can all guard LeBron. Heck, even Beverley has successfully defended James for stretches due to sheer tenacity.
However, the Clippers can run lineups where they play Harrell at the 5, as Harrell actually has a ridiculous 7-foot-4 wingspan and can certainly bother some of the more athletic centers in the league.
Obviously, against clubs with bigger centers like DeMarcus Cousins and Joel Embiid, playing Harrell at the 5 is not advisable, but in that case, Zubac will be just fine, as he has the bulk to deal with guys like that on the block.
Oh, and let’s not forget that the Clippers also added Maurice Harkless and Rodney McGruder this summer, two strong wing defenders who can moonlight in defending guys like LeBron for stints. Not that the Clips would need them to, but if he they had to throw them out there, they could do it.
It’s seriously insane how much defensive depth the Clips have, and it is going to make them an impossible puzzle to figure out for opposing offenses, especially for offenses that may not have a whole lot of experience playing together.
There are so many different lineup combinations that head coach Doc Rivers can employ to the point where it’s actually unfair.
As a matter of fact, this Clippers defense is so nasty that the 2017 Golden State Warriors, a team that some regard as the most talented group of all-time, would have had a difficult time solving it.
I know a lot of people are actually happy about the demise of the Warriors, lauding the fact that unpredictability is back in the NBA once again, but is it really?
I hate to burst everyone’s bubble, but so long as this Clippers squad stays healthy, it is going to be very, very hard to best it in a seven-game series, and a legitimate argument can be made that the Clips have the potential to be even more dominant than the Dubs due to their defense.
And it’s not like the Clippers are merely a defensive juggernaut without much in the form of offense, either. No. This team is also loaded on the offensive side of the ball, as we haven’t even mentioned that the Clippers have Lou Williams and Landry Shamet off the bench.
So, basically, if the Clips hold you to under 90 points (which will probably happen quite often next season), you’ll probably end up losing by 20-plus, as they have the capability to score 110 points night in and night out easily.
Just when you thought parity was back in the NBA, the Clippers, of all teams, have arrived and snatched it away.