Clippers

Clippers Remain West Contenders Despite Reported Rifts

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Dear NBA,

Do not sleep on the Los Angeles Clippers.

Yes, there’s plenty of reasons to doubt their chemistry and that there have been plenty of reported rifts this offseason. But that’s all just noise at this point.

Lue Has the Resume

On October 15, Ty Lue was hired as the Clippers head coach to replace the popular Doc Rivers.

LeBron James doesn’t leave out a large piece of the pie for his coaches when he wins championships. The King controls so much of the action on the court and much of the media narrative from it, we don’t even know what the contributions of his coaches are sometimes. Lue was LeBron’s coach for three of his Finals trips including a shocking championship win in 2016 against the mighty Golden State Warriors.

While we didn’t see eye-popping X’s and O’s from coach Lue, he was clearly able to strike a fruitful relationship with James. He also tried some interesting defensive strategies and somehow led that Cleveland Cavaliers team as far as they could go during the Warriors’ dynasty. Lue and LeBron actually took them beyond their ceiling in 2016 and that’s when Lue earned his stripes. Knowing how to handle a star is a must for an NBA coach and it will come in handy for Lue with this top-heavy LA Clippers roster.

Too Much Drama

The Clippers have had countless stories come out after their early exit from the bubble. Clearly, there was something off with the team’s chemistry and they underachieved. They behaved like they were destined for a championship all through the 2019-2020 season and were ready to turn on the proverbial switch.

The problem was they had never been together as a team before and never handled that switch as a group. So, the whole thing collapsed in a rather predictable way. Doc is gone now and the unflattering Clippers stories continue. The trolls are still out in full flow:

From stories about Kawhi being treated like MJ and Tom Brady combined with PG hinting at bad coaching by Doc, there has not been a whole lot of positive press for the Clippers. The locker room seems like a mess. Only thing weirder than Kawhi getting the diva treatment is PG getting the same.

Recency Bias

As bad as these things look for the Clippers, I want to remind everybody that just three months back, many were picking them to win it all. Many thought they had the best roster in the West and expected them to beat the Lakers.

Sure, they lost in a Game 7 after leading 3-1, and lost badly, but that’s still just one series. Let’s not let some recency bias completely cloud everyone’s judgment. Kudos to the Lakers for winning the championship, but Clippers may still be their toughest matchup. The Clips have not dominated free agency like the Lakers have, but winning the offseason doesn’t necessarily mean they will win the season too. Serge Ibaka improves LAC even if their other additions don’t pan out.

The collective NBA universe loved last season’s Clippers team for good reasons, but they had their share of deficiencies. They didn’t have an answer for Anthony Davis. But then again, who does these days? The reason we liked them was because they had multiple defensive stoppers to throw at LeBron. Between Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, pesky Patrick Beverley, and any other wing they can round up, they can disrupt the King. As great as Davis was in the bubble playoffs, LeBron was the unanimous Finals MVP. As long as Bron is the straw that stirs the Lakers’ drink, you have to give the Clippers’ top-two a shot at stealing his crown. And Ibaka is now an upgrade against Davis.

Lakers are the clear favorites right now. But when the season starts later this month, don’t sleep on the Los Angeles Clippers. Kawhi and his sidekicks will continue to be a tough out in the loaded West.

About Aravind Srinivasan

Aravind loves two things- the NBA and writing. He has been a long-time Phoenix Suns fans since the Charles Barkley-Kevin Johnson era of the mid-90’s. He now lives in the Golden State and follows the Warriors closely. An avid sports and NBA blogger since the early days of blogging, he is now a Suns and Dubs writer for TLSM. His favourite Sun is Steve Nash and his favourite Warrior is Steph Curry. Twitter: @15cent

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