Clippers Causing Commotion

The 2019 NBA trade deadline is quickly approaching, yet some franchises have yet to make their move.

However, last night, while most people were probably fast asleep, the Los Angeles Clippers made a HUGE deal with the 76ers. If you follow any of NBA twitter, then you’ve seen the commotion this trade has made.

If not, let me break it down.

The Clippers doled out their beloved duo of Tobias Harris and Boban Marjanovic as well as Mike Scott, in order to receive Mike Muscala, Wilson Chandler and Landry Shamet from Philadelphia. Wait, we’re not done yet.

Los Angeles was also given the Sixers’ 2020 first-round pick, Miami’s unprotected 2021 first round pick and two second round picks.

This trade is insane only because of a few reasons…

The Clippers did the SAME thing last year around this time, trading their star forward, who was then Blake Griffin. Weirdly, there are some interestingly similar coincidences about those trades.

If things weren’t already weird enough, the Clippers are also now among the top contenders to be able to reach for someone like Anthony Davis, which could even be a possibility before the deadline.

This trade freed up a ton of cap space, and if they continue to trade off players, they could reach an amount that’ll be enough to bring a superstar or two in once 2019 free agency rolls around.

In addition to all that Los Angeles received from the 76ers, they also still have the possible No. 1 pick in this years draft, that is, if they miss the playoffs. If not, the Boston Celtics will receive it.

Who knows, maybe Zion Williamson is in their future?

This might’ve been their plan all along- trade some strength to Philadelphia to contend against the Toronto Raptors, which would in turn make Kawhi Leonard’s chances of staying lower, then opt out of playoffs one way or another and keep their No. 1 pick from Boston.

With the Clippers clearing out their cap space for availability for players like Davis, Leonard and even Kevin Durant, there are so many possible acquisitions that this franchise can make happen. All we know at the moment, is that Los Angeles has the potential for an even bigger chess move.

Jerry West and the Clippers are stirring up a storm in the league as of now, and it’s only going to get bigger. Stay tuned.

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Los Angeles Clippers Sneakily Leading the West

When the NBA’s power rankings for Week 6 came out, some were shocked to say the least. While flying under the radar, the Los Angeles Clippers have been ranked No. 1.

It’s easy to reminisce about the old Clippers squad that included their (former) face of the franchise Blake Griffin, and the rest of their front runners- Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan. Those three combined with the skills of JJ Redick, Jamal Crawford and a hefty bench, it was long expected that the Clippers would rise to the top. Obviously, that never happened.

Today, Los Angeles is turning into the dark horse of the league. Not many have been paying too much attention to them, that is, until now.

The Clippers roster is young, and eccentric. It’s definitely full of names you wouldn’t likely make a team out of, and I think that’s why it’s working. This young LA team is currently on a five-game winning streak and looking to make it six tonight against the Washington Wizards. Clippers are already favored the win by 54.7%.

Doc Rivers has found a solid rotation and a hard-to-beat starting five including Patrick Beverley, Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Marcin Gortat and Tobias Harris. Their last game against the Atlanta Hawks, Avery Bradley started for Gallinari who’s currently listed day-to-day with an illness.

Rookie Gilgeous-Alexander came into the league playing like he’s been here for a couple years. He was comfortable and aggressive, and he’s continued that trend. In his last 10 games he’s averaged 10.8 points and about three assists per game while shooting 46% from the field. The rookie teamed up alongside a vet like Beverley has been a great dynamic for the team. Also, Gilgeous-Alexander is getting the chance to learn the ways of the game from one of the most aggressive point guards in the league. It’ll be exciting to watch him grow as a player. Especially if he becomes the new face of the franchise, which it seems like he’s already on the road to doing so.

In the month of November, Harris has proved how important he is to this team. He’s averaging 20.9 points and 8.8 boards per game. He also has an active streak of 15+ points in 16 straight games.

However, it’s not just the starters. If you’ve watched even one Clippers game this season, then you saw the strength of their players off the bench. The days of one player being the only solid sixth man are gone. Lou Williams is always dependable, but the Clippers also have the advantage of Mike Scott and the monster himself- Montrezl Harrell. There’s several other power houses coming off the bench for LA as well, like the friendly giant Boban Marjanovic.

Both Harrell and Williams have scored double digits in their last five games. Against Golden State, Harrell dropped 23 while Williams dropped 25.

In just November, Harrell has been averaging 17 points per game while shooting 68% from the field. Some starters in the NBA don’t even make stats like that.

As a team, the Clippers are averaging 117.9 points and 46.8 total rebounds per game, while their opponents are averaging 112.8 points and 45.9 boards per game. The team is also shooting just below 40% from the three-point line and slightly above 50% from the field. They’re also shooting 82% from the free-throw line, while their opponents are shooting 77% from the stripe.

Los Angeles is currently leading the West, tied up with the Portland Trail Blazers and the Memphis Grizzlies who all hold the same record of 11-5. The Golden State Warriors are just under them with a 12-6 record.

As much as we all foresaw the Clippers making a legit title run while they had stars on their roster, it just never really clicked. Only two months into this season and things are already clicking for this squad. It was great to have superstars on the team, but with a roster like this one, full of young and hungry players, success is more likely than ever now.

10/28 Wizards @ Clippers Rapid Reactions

Final Score: Wizards 104, Clippers 136

Washington Wizards:

What in the world is going on with this Wizards team?

  • Hey! The rebounding wasn’t an issue! You wan’t to know why? Because there practically weren’t any to grab! The Clippers shot a blistering 54% from the field and 55% from beyond the arc. Washington had one defensive lapse on top of another, and there was a lacksidasical effort all across the board tonight. This season (so far) was perfectly summed up in a John Wall mishandled ball in which he lost and then simply stood next to the grapple for the ball, watching his teammates wreslte to grab his own error.
  • Otto Porter has caught his share of criticism from head coach Scott Brooks throughout past games, and didn’t do much tonight to change his stance on Porter’s play. In thirty minutes, the forward made six shots on 33% shooting, along with a few boards and assists. The poor effort, along with the early exit of Markieff Morris, spelled early disaster for this team. HOWEVER, that does not excuse the accompanying white flag that came from the remaining starters in the game.
  • Although it is very early in the season, there seems to be the possibility of some possible locker-room dysfunction already. Accountability was an issue last season, and in a year where it has already gone not-so-according to plan, this could be an problem that tears a team apart. In what feels like a make-or-break year for the head coach, and even some players on the team, this is not a good look for what was figured to be a promising year for this group.

Play of the Game: This feels like a game not-so-deserving of one. In fact, I am incredibly tempted to put a “Not Play of the Game”. In a bad performance, usually there is still a bright spot, but today there isn’t a whole lot of positives surrounding this team currently.

 

Los Angeles Clippers:

  • This was a performance that should get Clippers fans excited for the outlook of their team. The feelings surrounding this franchise coming into the season were mixed, with some thinking this was a bridge season until the team could find its next star, and others intrigued by the possibilities and potential this cast presents. This performance, and especially the success of shooting from deep, shows the ability of this team even without a true “superstar”.
  • The Clippers got great production off the bench, especially from fan favorite Boban Marjanovic tonight. That bench stumped both the starting and reserve units of the Washington team this evening. Combined with a great defensive efforts from their starters, this is a recipe for the type of team LA will have to be if they want to be a serious threat in the West come late in the year.
  • A great point was brought up during the Clippers broadcast late in the third quarter- “This team doesn’t have a superstar caliber player, and that may not be the worst thing in the world”. Doc Rivers through these few games has shown tremendous coaching in the lineups and skill he has brought out of his players. This team will need to embody the old fashioned “whole is greater than the sum of its parts” style, and they have the potential to do so.

Play of the Game: With 2:40 left in the first quarter, Bradley Beal grabbed a rebound and attempted a layup to make it a one score game. Avery Bradley flew in to swat the ball away, setting the defensive tone early and keeping the Wizards behind.

The most untouchable player for every Western Conference team

Kevin Durant and Steph Curry

Well, the doldrums of the NBA offseason did not last too long. The NBA world was rocked as Kawhi Leonard got shipped to Toronto. Conversely, DeMar DeRozan is now headed to San Antonio. Still, we must strive forward and continue on with the untouchables list.

If you missed the Eastern Conference list, then click here.

 

1. Dallas Mavericks – Luka Doncic

This is a no brainer. The Mavs just surrendered a future pick for the Slovenian point-forward. Doncic has the potential to be a transcendent NBA player. This pick and roll maestro will enter the league as one of its premier passers. If you need a reminder on just how good Doncic is, I dug up his ProCity Hoops profile for you.

 

2. Denver Nuggets – Nikola Jokic

What gave this one away? Jokic just signed a 5 yr/$147 million deal. The center finished last season with a better field goal percentage that Joel Embiid and DeMarcus Cousins. Plus, he is one of the best passers in the game, regardless of position. Jokic finished 15th in assists per game last year, and 12th for total assists. Wow. This kid isn’t going anywhere.

 

3. Golden State Warriors – Steph Curry

Let’s get this out of the way. No one on this roster is getting traded anytime soon. This team has a few more finals appearances on the horizon, despite any players that LeBron guy lands in LA. While I do not expect a trade, I still chose Steph here. Trading him would be detrimental to the team’s fan base. You simply cannot throw away a home grown kid like Steph and expect everything to be okay.

 

4. Houston Rockets – James Harden

Did you expect anyone else? Here is a clip of every stepback J Harden hit last season.

5. Los Angeles Clippers – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Although it is merely summer league, this rookie has looked awesome. His octopus tentacles doubles as arms nowadays, and he used them for stealing basketballs. Offensively, he has the potential to play both guard positions. Jerry West has a steal on his hands.

Jerome Robinson was considered but, he does not have SGA’s ceiling. Tobias Harris was also in competition here, but his trade value is high enough to warrant being available. Check out SGA’s scouting report.

 

6. Los Angeles Lakers – LeBron James

Moving on.

 

7. Memphis Grizzlies – Jaren Jackson Jr.

This was an easy selection. Triple J has looked like he will immediately be an elite rim protector in this league. On the other side of the ball he has shown promise by draining 8 thress during his first summer league game. His full report is here.

More importantly, however, it seems as though Memphis is looking to make the playoffs. They added Kyle Anderson and Garrett Temple this offseason and drafted NBA ready Jevon Carter. In a loaded Western Conference, is this feasible? Memphis should be looking to unload Conley and Gasol instead of making the postseason.

 

8. Minnesota Timberwolves – Karl-Anthony Towns

Kat is my most underrated player in this league. He put up statistics last year that have never been done before. Not one player in league history has put up a stat line of 54 percent FG%, 42 percent 3P% on at least 14 field goal attempts and 3.5 three-point attempts.

Offensively, he is the best scoring center in the league and it is not even as close as we think. Check out how his numbers from last season rank against the premier offensive centers in the league last year.

Per Game Table
Rk Player Season G FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P 2PA 2P% eFG% FTA FT% TRB AST PF PTS
1 DeMarcus Cousins 2017-18 48 8.5 18.0 .470 2.2 6.1 .354 6.3 11.9 .530 .530 8.2 .746 12.9 5.4 3.8 25.2
2 Joel Embiid 2017-18 63 8.1 16.8 .483 1.0 3.4 .308 7.0 13.4 .527 .514 7.4 .769 11.0 3.2 3.3 22.9
3 Al Horford 2017-18 72 5.1 10.5 .489 1.3 3.1 .429 3.8 7.3 .514 .553 1.7 .783 7.4 4.7 1.9 12.9
4 Nikola Jokic 2017-18 75 6.7 13.5 .499 1.5 3.7 .396 5.2 9.7 .538 .554 4.2 .850 10.7 6.1 2.8 18.5
5 Karl-Anthony Towns 2017-18 82 7.8 14.3 .545 1.5 3.5 .421 6.3 10.8 .585 .596 4.9 .858 12.3 2.4 3.5 21.3
Provided by Basketball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 7/18/2018.
If you considered Andrew Wiggins for this list, seek help. Take a “me” day. With Jimmy Butler a free agent flight risk, KAT is the selection to go with.

9. New Orleans Pelicans – Anthony Davis

The Brow is the future of the NBA. A 6’11” power forward (who should be playing center) who can shoot from all three levels and has DPOY potential? Sign me up. Davis was only 22-years-old when he led the NBA in both blocks and PER. He has an MVP season in him somewhere, hopefully the Pelicans can unlock it for him.

 

10. Oklahoma City Thunder – Russell Westbrook

I debated Paul George here for a second. Why? A big name free agent signing like that in OKC will be rare going forward. What message would it send to the league if OKC just shipped him off? Despite this, Westbrook gets the nod. Not only is he an MVP player, but he is the heart and soul of Oklahoma basketball.

 

11. Phoenix Suns – Devin Booker

Because, duh. Devin Only two players have put up 24 point per game, 4 assists per game on 38 percent 3P shooting during their first 5 seasons in the league. One of them is Devin Booker. The other…Steph Curry.

DeAndre Ayton was never seriously considered here. He is a heck of a talent but, it is easier to find a rim protecting, three point shooting big than it is someone with Booker’s talent and ceiling. Josh Jackson was never truly in consideration.

 

12. Portland Trail Blazers – Damian Lillard

I struggled with this pick. Half of me thinks that Portland should just blow it up. The West has gotten even harder and they look to be a team with a second round ceiling. Why pursue the same result every year, if that result is not winning a title?

The other half of me thinks that Portland may have just enough assets to acquire a third star. Zach Collins still has a ton of potential and Portland is very high on him. Anfernee Simons balled out during summer league and turned the heads of many executives. Gm Neil Oshey should certainly consider bringing Kevin Love back to his home state. Send a package of prospects and picks over to Cleveland. Buddy up Love with McCollum and Dame, go all in.

 

13. Sacramento Kings – De’Aaron Fox

This selection was harder than it looked. Marvin Bagley is the Kings new toy. The 2nd overall pick in last year’s draft was not ranked as the #2 overall prospect by many scouts. Yet, the Kings loved Bagley and his desire to actually want to play in NoCal. I had Bagley ranked behind duke teammate Wendell Carter, and through summer league is appeared that I was right to do so.

Fox is a different story. He will help rebuild a culture in Sac’Town. Fox may possibly be the quickest end to end player in the league, and he has a developing jumper. Having already shown leadership and clutchness, I would be willing to trade Bagley before Fox.

De'Aaron Fox
USA Today Sports

14. San Antonio Spurs – DeMar DeRozan

Aw. So sad, DeMar.

Yesterday I wrote that no one on the Raptors should be untouchable, and apparently GM Masai Ujiri agreed with me. San Antonio clearly wants to take advantage of the remaining years that they have with Pop (bad decision.) So, they went out and traded Kawhi for DeMar. Shipping him off now would only would blow my mind, literally. GM R.C Buford had made brilliant moves for the Spurs for almost two decades now, but this move was horrendous.

 

15. Utah Jazz – Donovan Mitchell

Spida Mitchell made a bunch of GMs look dumb last year. He looks like a modern day D Wade. Mitchell has an All-NBA ceiling and I cannot wait to watch him develop. Gobert was never truly in contention here. In fact, I would consider trading the big man at his peak value.

During last year’s playoffs, we saw how stretch bigs can draw rim protectors away from, well, the rim. Ask Joel Embiid to explain what Al Horford did to him. Gobert will be less and less effective in the playoffs as teams play smaller. For now though, rejoice in having one of the most exciting players in the game back in Utah.

 

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Under the radar Kawhi Leonard Trade Possibilities

Kawhi Leonard Trade

Now that free agency has started to wind down, the biggest headline out there remains “who will trade for Kawhi Leonard?” If Leonard is traded at all, it won’t be anytime soon given the Spurs demands on what they want in return. All the rumors have Leonard traded to either the Lakers, Celtics or 76ers. However, all three of those teams are reluctant to trade for Leonard for different reasons.

The Lakers don’t want to part with Kyle Kuzma and feel they can sign Leonard next offseason. The Celtics don’t want to trade either Jaylen Brown or Jason Tatum, especially if Leonard won’t commit long-term. While the 76ers have cooled off to trading for Leonard since he won’t commit long-term, and he is no longer a convincing point to try and sign LeBron James.

While many teams will be scared off by Leonard’s lack of long-term commitment, other teams will take the chance like the Thunder did last season with Paul George and hope to sign him to a long-term deal. The next four pages consist of four possible Kawhi Leonard trades from teams who could convince him to stay long-term.

NBA Awards Predictions

James Harden

The 2018 NBA Awards show is tomorrow night. The first ever awards show was hosted by Drake last summer. This summer is a bit different. Anthony Anderson will be the host tomorrow night with thousands of NBA fans tuning in on TNT. The best thing to do before the show tomorrow night is to make predictions. Let’s get into NBA Awards Predictions.

 

Most Valuable Player: James Harden

Candidates: James Harden, LeBron James, Anthony Davis

The MVP race was made a lot closer at the end of the season with LeBron’s ridiculous run to finish the last part of the regular season. If this award also included the postseason, LeBron would be the winner. However, since it is a regular season award, James Harden will win without a sweat.

Harden finished the regular season averaging a career-high 30.4 points per game on 44.9% shooting from the field. Harden also recorded 8.8 assists per game and 5.4 rebounds per game. Leading Houston to the top seed in the Western Conference makes Harden the easy choice for MVP for the 2017/18 season.

 

Rookie of the Year: Ben Simmons

Candidates: Ben Simmons, Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum

The Rookie of the Year award will be one of the most scrutinized awards tomorrow night. There was a never-ending debate throughout the regular season about what being a rookie actually means. Even Donovan Mitchell got in on the action wearing the definition of a rookie shirt. However, because the NBA considers Simmons a rookie, he takes home the award.

In his first (or second if you like controversy) season in the NBA, Simmons blew away the doubters. Everyone that said he couldn’t shoot, was I guess right, but it didn’t matter. Simmons still averaged 15.8 points per game, 8.2 assists per game, and 8.1 rebounds per game. He did all of this without making a single three-pointer.

 

Sixth Man of the Year: Lou Williams

Candidates: Lou Williams, Eric Gordon, Fred VanVleet

This Sixth Man of the Year award was an easy choice. Lou Williams had one of the best seasons a sixth man could possibly have. Averaging 22.6 points per game on 35.9% shooting from deep is unheard of out of a sixth man. There is no question about who should be receiving this award tomorrow night.

Lou Williams
Getty Images

Coach of the Year: Dwane Casey

Candidates: Dwane Casey, Quin Snyder, Brad Stevens

The winner of Coach of the Year will be another close race. However, the tipping point is that the award, once again, is a regular season award. That being said, Dwane Casey, who led the Raptors to a 59-win season should be the winner. Yes, the Raptors got swept in the second round of the playoffs. But, that doesn’t matter. This is a regular season award, so Casey should be the winner.

 

Most Improved Player: Victor Oladipo

Candidates: Clint Capela, Spencer Dinwiddie, Victor Oladipo

If Victor Oladipo doesn’t win the Most Improved Player award, NBA fans are going to burn a building down. Oladipo was hands down, the most improved player this season. After being a cap dump for the Thunder in the Paul George trade, Oladipo led the Pacers to the fifth seed in the East. Oladipo averaged a career-high in points, assists, rebounds, steals, field goal percentage, and three-point percentage. Those are the most important stats in basketball. If that doesn’t win Oladipo most improved player, I don’t know what would.

 

Defensive Player of the Year: Rudy Gobert

Candidates: Rudy Gobert, Joel Embiid, Anthony Davis

The only reason that Gobert wouldn’t win Defensive Player of the Year tomorrow night is because of his injury. Gobert missed 26 games this season for the Jazz. However, when he played, the Jazz were the best defensive team in the NBA, and it wasn’t close. Blocking 2.3 shots per game, Gobert did more on the defensive side of the ball than what shows up on the stat sheet. Gobert alters shots at the rim like no other big man in the NBA does. That, along with his shot blocking skills, should win him Defensive Player of the Year.

Creating the best NBA Lineup from Non-Playoff Teams

Devin Booker

Today is the day. It is time to kick off a brand new column called “Creating NBA Lineups.” Every Monday, a new lineup will be released. However, each week there will be different rules to follow when I create the lineups. To open up the new column today, I am “Creating the best NBA Lineup from Non-Playoff Teams.” I am basing the lineup off of the players’ performances last season, and I am assuming full health for each player. Let’s jump right into it.

 

PG: Kemba Walker

What better way to start off a team than with a two-time All-Star running the show. Kemba Walker is one of the most fascinating point guards in the NBA, and with more talent around him, the Hornets would be a fixture in the postseason every year. Perhaps the biggest knock on Kemba’s game is his passing ability, which won’t be a problem on this team with all the talent surrounding him. In addition, Kemba gives this team someone to go to when the team is in desperate need of a bucket. Kemba has a killer mentality, exactly what a franchise needs in their star point guard.

In Consideration: Jamal Murray

 

SG: Devin Booker

What other direction can you go? Devin Booker has the potential to be one of the next great NBA players of all-time. Booker is just 21 years old and has already shown that he has what it takes to be very successful in the NBA. Averaging 24.9 points per game on 38.3% shooting from three-point range, Booker is the perfect backcourt fit next to Walker. Similar to Walker, Booker has a killer mentality. When the team needs a bucket, all you need to do is call an iso for the Kentucky product. There isn’t a more perfect fit at shooting guard for this team, exactly why a young star is the direction to go.

In Consideration: Lou Williams

 

SF: Tobias Harris

Welcome to the first shock of the “Creating NBA Lineups” series. Most people would probably think a young and still developing Brandon Ingram would be the way to go here. However, I think Tobias Harris is exactly what this team needs at small forward. Coming off his best season in the NBA, averaging 18.6 points per game on 41.1% shooting from deep, Harris complements a ball-dominant backcourt well. Harris has the ability to spot up outside the three-point line and knock down shots when defenses collapse on the driver. In addition, Harris’ savviness will get him easy buckets making back-door cuts when the defense puts their attention on other threats. Finally, Harris’ size and defensive abilities give the team someone who can match-up with the opposing team’s star player. Harris fits the build for exactly what this super team needs at small forward.

In Consideration: Harrison Barnes/Brandon Ingram

Tobias Harris

PF: Kristaps Porzingis

“Unicorn.” “Porzingod.” Whatever you want to call him, this man can flat out ball. The 22-year-old All-Star is the prototypical modern NBA big. Porzingis can score from anywhere on the floor. He can put the ball on the deck, he can post-up and he can launch it from deep. Not only can he do it all on offense, his size and length allows him to block a flurry of shots each game. Porzingis’ abilities on both ends of the floor make him the perfect fit at power forward for this super team.

In Consideration: Blake Griffin

 

C: Nikola Jokic

What a frontcourt we have here. Can you even imagine Kristaps Porzingis and Nikola Jokic on the same team? That is the definition of an opposing team’s worst nightmare. Like Porzingis, Jokic can do it all on offense, but he adds an additional element: his passing. Jokic is possibly the best passing big in the NBA. He sees things that a lot of point guards don’t see, and this man is over seven feet tall. His ability to handle the ball and make passes like a guard add a whole new dynamic to this team.

In Consideration: DeAndre Jordan/Andre Drummond

 

Recap/Prediction:

To close it off, this team would be good, really good. Having a Kemba/Booker backcourt, a Porzingis/Jokic frontcourt and Harris to tie it all together is unfair. In addition, a mixture of veteran leadership and young talent spells for this team to be very good for a very long time. If I were to make a prediction for this lineup over 10 seasons, I would put them at winning five championships over that time period. Other super teams still dominate in the present, but once some of these young guys get in their prime, this non-playoff super team would rule the association.

Be sure to come back next week when a new “Creating NBA Lineups” column is posted!

Photo Credits: The Ringer, Blazer’s Edge