After the LA Clippers parted ways with head coach Doc Rivers, there are multiple views floating around about the future of the franchise. Some in the NBA world want the team to run with the same set of players while others want to see massive changes in the roster. Nevertheless, the LA Clippers can look at making more big changes, especially in the center position where the arrival of two skilled big men could push the team over the hump and towards the championship.
The current state of the LA Clippers
The LA Clippers’ team was built with high expectations, with the goal to win the championship immediately. However, their loss to the Denver Nuggets in the second round of the Playoffs was a major upset.
It looked like the LA Clippers had all the ingredients to win a championship this season. They had the reigning Finals MVP, superstar players, a deep bench and talented role players. But the roster had a big gap between the superstars and the rest of the team. There was no skilled big man who could play the center.
The Bigs in the Playoffs
The NBA Playoffs are all about match-ups and exploiting the other team’s weaknesses. The Denver Nuggets were certainly a bad match-up for the Clippers. The Nuggets feature Nikola Jokic who is arguably the most skilled big man in the league. In the second round, the LA Clippers had no answer for Jokic and came up short.
Ivica Zubac and Montrezl Harrell play the center position for the LA Clippers. Both of them are talented players, but they are not the best centers in the NBA, and they had to go up against Jokic who is an All Star and an All NBA player.
Nikola Jokic, the Joker, is a unique player. He is an incredible shooter and playmaker for a big man who is 7 feet tall and weighs 280 pounds. There was no one in the LA Clippers team who could stop him, contest his shots or even disrupt his rhythm. Jokic was raining shots and was effective on the floor as well.
The LA Clippers would have faced the Los Angeles Lakers in the Conference Finals if they had managed to defeat the Nuggets. Would the LA Clippers have matched up well against their Los Angeles rivals?
The Lakers have the strength and skill of LeBron James. They have the size and versatility of Anthony Davis. The Lakers also have rim-protectors and shot-blockers like JaVale McGee and Dwight Howard. It is important to note that JaVale McGee was on two championship teams with the Golden State Warriors, and Dwight Howard is a former three-time defensive-player-of-the-year winner.
Every team needs at least one skilled big man, one who can guard the paint, protect the rim and make defensive plays. The Toronto Raptors, who are the reigning champions, won the championship last season by putting big men on the floor. The Raptor’s centers were successful against strong players like Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
An argument can be made that the Golden State Warriors won championships without a traditional big man in their starting-five. That is true. But the Warriors are one of the very few teams in the history of the sport to have multiple All-Stars with the best shooting back-court in the league and a defensive-player-of-the year winner.
What lies ahead for the LA Clippers?
Every NBA team will work on getting better next season. in this regard, it will be very interesting to see what the LA Clippers decide to do this off-season. Having a good big-man will not only strengthen the center position but will also give the team a chance at multiple lineups. The Clippers can go strong, be versatile and start throwing surprises at their opponents.
The removal of the head coach, who was with the organization for seven years. shows that the LA Clippers are willing to make big changes. The franchise might continue making big changes to their team, especially to their BIGs, which could certainly put them on the championship route.