The Los Angeles Clippers are the odds-on favorites to win the 2019-20 NBA championship after adding Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to what was an already solid team this offseason, and you can see why.
Leonard is arguably the best player in the league, and George is coming off of the best season of his career. Combined, the two of them will comprise what is probably the best duo in the game.
But, like any other team in the NBA, the Clippers are facing some questions.
So, here are four burning questions for Los Angeles ahead of training camp:
4. Is there Enough Frontcourt Depth?
The Clippers currently have Ivica Zubac and Montrezl Harrell in their frontcourt, which is good enough on its own, but behind those two, LA doesn’t have a whole lot of depth.
There is veteran JaMychal Green, who has turned into a very solid role player, but then what? Second-year big Johnathan Motley? Rookie Mfiondu Kabengele?
While Motley and Kabengele both have potential, potential is not what title-contending teams are looking for. They want proven talent, and neither Motley nor Kabengele provide that. At least not right now.
Even Zubac is relatively unproven, but he did have a decent season in 2018-19, so he will probably be fine.
But look for the Clippers to monitor the market for big men throughout the year, especially if their young guys can’t answer the bell. As dominant as Leonard and George are, you still need a capable frontline to win in this league. I’m not sure only three dependable bigs is enough.
3. Will Paul George Come Back Healthy?
Lost in all of the hoopla surrounding George’s trade to Los Angeles is the fact that he is actually coming off dual shoulder surgeries and is expected to miss the start of the regular season.
George battled shoulder issues throughout much of the second half of this past year, and while he seems to have gotten the problems rectified, surgery is surgery, so there is a chance George is a bit rusty when he first gets back on the floor.
Chances are, George will be just fine, but it would not be surprising if there is an adjustment period for the 29-year-old, which could cause the Clippers to not look as great as they eventually will early on.
Hopefully, George is able to return without missing a beat, but we can’t discount the possibility that George might not look entirely himself right out of the gate.
2. How will Kawhi Leonard’s Minutes be Managed?
Because Leonard was so incredible with the Toronto Raptors during these past playoffs, we tend to forget that he only played 60 games during the regular season as a result of load management.
Will the Clippers employ the same strategy?
Remember: Leonard played just nine games during his final season with the San Antonio Spurs due to a mysterious quad injury, and over the course of his eight-year NBA career, he has played 70 contests just twice. He has also averaged just 30.8 minutes per game.
Leonard is not accustomed to playing a full season or heavy minutes, so Los Angeles will have to manage him carefully in order to preserve him for the playoffs.
But how many games will the Clips sit Kawhi? And how many minutes will they play him when he is available?
All of these are questions that Doc Rivers and Co. will have to answer, and obviously, the more games Leonard sits, the more of a chance the Clippers will lose some extra games.
1. Do the Clippers have an Answer for Anthony Davis?
The Clippers have plenty of guys who can defend LeBron James.
Leonard. George. Harrell. Green. Maurice Harkless. Heck, even Rodney McGruder.
It’s almost nauseating.
But what about Anthony Davis?
Again, Los Angeles is somewhat short on talent in its frontcourt. Zubac would get absolutely eaten alive by Davis, and Green doesn’t seem like the greatest matchup here.
The Clippers’ best bit is probably Harrell, who, even though he is only 6-foot-8, has a ridiculous 7-foot-4 wingspan and has the athleticism, the motor and the toughness to guard Davis for the majority of the game.
But Harrell can’t be the only guy. It will have to be a committee effort, and I’m not sure the Clips have another big who can match up with Davis.
Now, to be fair, the Lakers are also going to have a heck of a time defending Leonard and George, but the fact that Davis seems to have a big advantage over the Clippers gives the Lakers a fighting chance of beating this team in a seven-game series.