Clippers

The 2 Underrated Clippers Holding Everything Together

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The NBA finally returns on July 30th. The return has the players, organizations and fans excited to finish the season and crown the NBA champions. With the Clippers returning to action with a healthy squad, the team is set to contend for a title. With all the hype surrounding the Clippers’ all-star power, there are smaller role players behind them that quietly contribute to the success. Here are two underrated players that have been putting in work to push the Clippers to their current position.

1. Ivica Zubac

You might be thinking to yourself, how is a starter underrated? Well this starting center doesn’t play as much as a typical NBA starter does. Zubac only posts 18.1 minutes per game, good for 10th on the team. What makes them special is that he plays every second of those minutes with determination to win. He isn’t talked about much when thinking of important players to the Clippers, but he is a big reason for their success.

Zubac is one of the most reliable players on the team. His health has allowed him to suit up for every game this season– the only Clipper to achieve that feat. He’s established himself as somebody that the team can rely on night in and night out.

When Zubac is in the paint, he sets the tone for the whole game and handles the dirty work on offense. He sets screens that allow his teammates to score and create his own opportunities for dunks and lay-ups. His pick-and-roll game has allowed to him to shoot an impressive 60.1% from the field.

A majority of his shots come right at the rim, but he isn’t afraid to take a jump shot. The fourth-year player from Citluk is shooting 50% from between 10-16 feet, and 75% from 16-23 feet. Zubac isn’t afraid to shoot when he’s open and can drain his shots at a high rate. Although he only averages eight points per game, they are efficient points as almost every shot he puts up finds its way through the net.

When he’s not shooting the ball or setting screens, he’s pulling down rebounds on offense and defense. He brings down 7.2 boards per game, leading the team in total rebounds (461) and rebound percentage (20.6%). When a shot goes up, Zubac fights for every loose ball, often leading to a put-back or a reset on offense. On defense, he boxes out opposing bigs, allowing others to snag rebounds that he doesn’t grab himself. Whenever a ball comes off the rim, Zubac has a say in who is coming down with it.

Besides getting rebounds on defense, Zubac is someone you don’t want to go near in the paint. The seven-footer will block opponent’s shots if they get too close to his rim. His 0.9 blocks per game might not seem like a lot, but he’s blocking players shots 2.4 times per 100 possessions, which is top 20 in the NBA for centers. Next time you watch Zubac on the court, watch what happens when any player gets beside him in the paint and tries to shoot.

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2. Landry Shamet

Shamet began the season in the starting lineup for the Clippers. He was a big part of the team and played large minutes during the early portions of the season. After suffering a high-ankle sprain, he sat out 17 games. Once he returned, he was added to the bench rotation and occasionally found himself with the starting squad. Whether he comes off the bench or starts, he has helped get the Clippers to where they are today.

Playing the sixth-most minutes per game on the team with 27.5, Shamet sees the court enough to make an impact on the game. The second-year guard from Wichita State brings a three-point threat that opponents need to watch out for. He is the Clippers’ best catch-and-shoot three-point specialist who is always willing to let it fly when he receives a pass. He has shown throughout the season that he can light it up from beyond the arc. The shooting guard can even make a big shot when it comes down to the final seconds.

A whopping 268 of Shamet’s 351 shots this year have been from three-point range. He shoots just under six attempts per game at 39%– good for second on the team for players who play more than 20 minutes per game. With the high number of threes he puts up, he is able to score points in bunches. He sits at fifth on the team in scoring with 9.7 points per game, but he can score more than that on any given night when he catches fire. If Shamet can heat up during the end of the season, he can be a threat to any perimeter defense in the NBA.

When the season finally returns, the Clippers will make a run for their first NBA championship. With the leadership of two all-stars and a strong supporting cast, the Clippers have all the potential needed to capture the trophy. There’s more to the team than just it’s star players, and those in the shadows will shine when the spotlight is on them.

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About Jordan Taylor

Los Angeles Clippers Writer. Email: jtfsu@outlook.com | Twitter: @jtfsu98

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