Clippers

Clippers Showing Why They Are LA’s Kings

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As the buzzer sounded in the Staples Center on April 9th, the Lakers’ disappointing season finally came to an end. Little did Lakers’ fans know that their president, Magic Johnson, would step down immediately after the game.

Days later, Luke Walton and the team agreed to part ways after his unsuccessful tenure. In a season filled with turmoil and craziness, the Lakers took the NBA by storm with their dysfunction. Despite the drama coming from the Lakers, the Clippers showed that at least right now, they are the top dogs of the city. After coming into the season with the expectation the Lake Show would make the playoffs, it has been the Clippers representing LA instead. The difference between the two is highlighted by the Clippers’ path to success the Lakers can only dream of having.

Teamwork can beat Star Power

Coming into the season, the real star power on the Clippers’ were Lou Williams and Tobias Harris. However, come trade deadline, Harris was shipped to the City of Brotherly Love. Lou Will then became the main man associated with the Clips. The Lakers of course have LeBron James, one of the greatest players to ever touch the basketball. LeBron’s band of misfits consisted of Michael Beasley, Lance Stephenson, Rajon Rondo, and JaVale McGee, or better known to NBA fans as the “Meme Team”. This pairing was rather surprising, as the biggest weakness was outside shooting.

The Clippers, however, went with a team first approaching, surrounding the core of Williams with high energy players in JaMychal Green and Ivica Zubac (ironically stolen from the Lakers themselves). In the Chris Paul trade to Houston, another high energy player the Clips acquired was Montrezl Harrell, who was seen as a thrown in. However, himself, Lou Will, and Patrick Beverley, who all came from the same trade, are now the heart and soul of the Clippers. Playing with a a group of players who have high energy, separates the Clippers from the mainly low energy Lakers.

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Young Guns are Playoff Ready

Both the Lakers and Clippers are full of young talent. The Lakers have the more sexier names; Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and Moritz Wagner. The Clippers are developing a core as well; Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jerome Robinson. The Clips acquired additional young talent through trades in Zubac and Landry Shamet. So far, the young guns have been living up to their expectations with the Clippers. Even during the playoffs, despite not putting up gaudy numbers, they have been providing solid play for the Clips. During the greatest comeback in playoff history, Shamet put the Clippers ahead with his cold-blooded three with seconds remaining.

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Developing talent has been somewhat of an issue for the Lakers as of late. Two of their own lottery picks in the recent years — D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle —¬†have produced stellar seasons with their new teams. Randle had his rookie season in LA end with a broken right leg minutes into his debut. Russell had his Laker career highlighted by his infamous video he took of Nick Young. Both of those players went on to have career years with the Pelicans and Nets respectively. Right now, the Lakers could use the Randle and Russell that they expected were getting with those draft picks.

Embracing the Underdog Role

Coming into the season, many thought the Clippers were NBA Lottery bound. Sniffing the top 10 in the west was even a long shot. However, the Clippers defied the odds and made the playoffs. In fact, the Clippers team as a whole is full of players who defied the odds. JaMychal Green went undrafted out of college. Patrick Beverley had to spend most of his early years playing overseas. The aforementioned Montrezl Harrell was a throw in to the CP3 trade. Landry Shamet came over for the Clips leading scorer, Tobias Harris. Lou Williams was seen as a sixth man that could never take on the main scoring duties. This team values being the underdog in any situation.

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On Christmas Day, the Lakers beat the Warriors, but it came at the cost of losing LeBron due to a groin strain. At the time, the Lakers were 4th in the playoff race. As we all know now, they finished outside of the playoffs. The Lakers were in the underdog role, and the team as a whole was not ready. Despite the fact that they were missing LeBron, the young guys knew that they were going to be relied on this season. The team never embraced the underdog role as a whole, however.

The Clippers’ Outlook

While the Clippers probably won’t beat the Warriors in this series, their comeback win in Game 2 and impressive road win in Game 5 have been unbelievable. But to quote the legendary Jim Carey, “You’re saying there’s a chance? Yes!” Even with a first round exit, the season has been extremely successful overall. The Clippers have proven to their Staples Center nemesis that you can win without a true superstar. They also proved that you can never count out the underdog, and that their young players can provide impact in the playoffs. Compared to the Lakers, the Clippers are in a much better state than they are. The Clippers have a much better chance of landing a superstar this off season based off of the way both teams seasons played out.

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Until the Lakers can control reality show ran by Rob Pelinka, the Clippers are going to be setting the example of how to run a franchise in LA. For Steve Ballmer and the Clips, they will be the Kings of LA for a long period of time.

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