2021 Los Angeles Clippers Depth Chart
|Point Guard||Patrick Beverley||21||Reggie Jackson||1||Rajon Rondo||4|
|Shooting Guard||Paul George||13||Luke Kennard||5|
|Small Forward||Kawhi Leonard||2||Marcus Morris||13|
|Power Forward||Nicolas Batum||5||Patrick Patterson||54||Daniel Oturu||10|
|Center||Serge Ibaka||9||Ivica Zubac||40|
The Los Angeles Clippers are coming off a better than anticipated 42-40 record, one defined by the end of the Lob City era. With the trading of longtime Lob City starlets Blake Griffin and Chris Paul, and the decision to let fellow All-Star DeAndre Jordan walk to Dallas on a one-year contract, the Clippers field an uncertain squad with few significant holdovers. L.A. will attempt to remain relevant in the suddenly competitive Pacific Division by combining veteran shooting, defensive-oriented guards, and raw, intriguing new rookie guards to go with a flawed, uninspiring frontcourt. This division features the two-time defending NBA Finals winners Golden State Warriors and the newly LeBron James-led L.A. Lakers at the top. Joining quickly are the rising Phoenix Suns, who recently acquired a crop of new athletes headlined by 2018’s No. 1 overall draft pick DeAndre Ayton.
The Clippers will be defined by their guard play. It is their strength, as it is headlined by near-miss All-Star and two-time Sixth Man of the Year recipient Lou Williams. He is joined by a pair of end-of-the-lottery draft picks in the backcourt: freshman Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of Kentucky, and junior Jerome Robinson of Boston College. These two players represent the future of the Clippers, not the present. The instant-offense Williams figures to handle the brunt of scoring volume and shot attempts this coming regular season as the rookies scrap for playing time.
Robinson, known for his scoring in college, will have an especially challenging battle for guard minutes early on for L.A. Returning from season-ending injury is Patrick Beverly, a former First Team All-NBA defensive guard who can play both backcourt spots. Avery Bradley, another former All-NBA defensive guard, is also entrenched at the off-ball role. Beverly and Bradley will likely be penciled in as starters for the opener because of their combination of defense and three-point marksmanship, with Williams resuming off the bench in his usual role.
Gilgeous-Alexander prefers to finish at the rim more than from the outside, and should complement nicely to Williams’ heavy three-point volume shooting. Assuming he nor Robinson get moved in a trade package for Toronto Raptors forward Kawhi Leonard at the mid-February deadline, Gilgeous-Alexander is a two-way point guard that could very well receive a starting spot as the season goes on, namely if the Clips are not making a postseason spot push. Swingman Miloš Teodosić could see limited minutes as an outside shooting threat. Unfortunately for former South Carolina star Sindarius Thornwell, this very deep backcourt will possibly send him to the G-League by opening night, if not the end of the bench.
An underrated returning cog is Tobias Harris. Harris, still just 25 years old, puts up points from both inside and outside, illustrated by his TS% of .565. It is expected that he will be the starting small forward, backed up by journeyman forward Wesley Johnson, and defensive-minded Luc Mbah a Moute, who returns after a season with the Houston Rockets.
The big men are forgettable. At power forward are the oft-injured Danilo Gallinari, the youthful, high motored Montrezl Harrell, and athletic Mike Scott. Gallinari has an albatross of a contract and could be included in a salary dump during the season, maybe for Leonard. Harrell is a high energy, low range big who will come off the bench to mostly rebound, layup and dunk. Scott was acquired in the Austin Rivers trade with the Washington Wizards which also netted L.A. Marcin Gortat. Scott will get around 15-20 minutes per game, a number that could rise if Gallinari is still injury prone or not traded. Scott does have range, shooting 40.5% from the three-point-line last year for the Wizards, and could see small ball center minutes as a result.
With Jordan’s departure, enter Gortat at center. Gortat, known for his drama with Wizards teammate John Wall last season, will be a slow, run-of-the-mill 5. Due to his age and the Clips’ desire for faster, guard-oriented small-ball play, will likely be the first player substituted off the court and play the fewest minutes of the starters. The 7’3” 290 pound Boban Marjanovic is his backup. He’ll only be situationally used versus slower bigs.
Expect the guard-deep, frontcourt-thin Clippers to finish in the low to mid 30s in win total as expected. If the rumors prove true about L.A. adding Kawhi, this number could rise significantly. Until then, a team powered by its guard play will need to fight off the vicious, loaded Western Conference for wins, night in and night out.