Clippers

Clippers’ February Moves Make Them Finals Contenders?

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The Los Angeles Clippers made their fair share of moves this month.

Anything is possible with a healthy Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, but did they do enough to prepare themselves for the playoffs?

Let’s grade all of the Clippers’ moves this month.

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THE GORDON TRADE

Grade: A

This move solves two issues in one trade. First, Luke Kennard’s defensive liabilities are no longer our problem, and second, the failed John Wall experiment is put to rest.

While it is sad to say goodbye to Luke, the Clippers have certainly made an upgrade.

Gordon is not as great of a shooter as Luke, but he’s certainly no slouch. The 34-year-old ranks 21st all-time for three-point makes— only one spot behind Kevin Durant.

A massive upgrade has arrived on the defensive end.

Gordon is a tough defender whose experience with the small-ball Rockets makes him an excellent fit for this Clippers team. In addition, Gordon has excelled in a switch-heavy defense and can guard players bigger than him. Being able to guard up a position has been one of the Clippers’ staples in the Kawhi-and-PG era.

Gordon has already showcased his ability to play next to ball-dominant superstars and his willingness to do whatever is needed to help the team win.

If only they didn’t miss 27 threes in a row

THE PLUMLEE TRADE

Grade: B+

The Clippers needed a backup center and they got one of the best in the game. Plumlee provides great Ivica Zubac insurance for a potential series against the Nuggets.

For all our numbers people out there— we just doubled the amount of times Jokic can get fouled by our big men.

All it takes is one unlikely Mason Plumlee highlight and Clippers fans will fall in love.

In all seriousness, Plumlee may not be an amazing starting center but as a backup, he is one of the best in the league.

Plumlee can add some dynamism to the offense. He is an amazing passer, and not just for a center. He excels at quarterback-esque passes to start the fast break, bounce passes in transition, and diming backdoor cutters for easy buckets.

Plumlee’s electric passing can inject some life into the Clippers’ sometimes-stagnant bench offense.

The one thing keeping this trade from being graded higher is the loss of Reggie Jackson.

While frustration with Reggie was increasing, he had his time as a fan favorite and many great moments with the Clippers. Most famously his 2021 playoff run, where he could not miss.

It was becoming clear that Reggie’s time here was coming to an end, but there’s this irrational fear of another ex-Clipper coming back to haunt us. Especially since he signed with the Clippers’ kryptonite the Denver Nuggets.

All we can ask from Reggie is to please not hop on the scorers table if you beat us.

THE HYLAND TRADE

  • Clippers acquire: Bones Hyland
  • Nuggets acquire: Two second-round picks

Grade: A+

This trade doesn’t guarantee the Clippers a title or anything of that matter, but it might be the most underrated trade this deadline.

Like our former point guards, Bones has defensive limitations and questionable shot selection. The 22-year-old is still on his rookie deal, however, which means a lot less money and a much-higher ceiling.

It is rare for teams to find a deal like this that has the potential to be low risk and a high reward.

While the Clips would’ve benefitted from a more-traditional point guard, Bones is undoubtedly a very talented offensive player. His value will shine when the Clippers have one of their shameful-but-signature scoring droughts.

The droughts that make you want to let everyone in your life know that you could coach better than Ty Lue. The droughts that make you want to shut off the TV and partake in a less-stressful hobby.

But to your surprise just before you turn the TV off, Bones is subbed in. You decide why not watch a few minutes, and before you know it, Bones has scored 18 points in a quarter.

WESTBROOK AND GEORGE REUNITED

The Clips’ depth has increased even more by adding Russell Westbrook. Westbrook has his flaws, but the Clippers are the team best suited to maximize his strengths.

The team will need to continue to have extensive discussions on what his role will be. At this moment it is unclear what this will mean for Terance Mann. Taking away minutes from him would be a mistake as he has excelled in a starting role so far.

Russ was at his best off the bench for the Lakers this year. Whether or not he starts for the Clips, they will have to find a happy medium where Russ can be ball-dominant but not take too many touches away from Kawhi and PG.

Westbrook’s true point-guard skills will be great for the flow of the offense and increasing the pace of the team.

Now that they have a ball-moving point guard, the Clippers have everything the need in order to compete for a title— all that’s left to do is show it.

About Josh Douglas

Josh is a fan of shot creators, big guys that play like guards, and on-court accessories. He is an avid supporter of all things Clippers and 76ers. Josh writes about the L.A. Clippers.

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