The Los Angeles Clippers have somehow found a way to win games this season. While fans in Los Angeles have flocked to the Staples Center to witness LeBron James and the new-look Lakers, it’s the Clippers who has turned heads so far. With a winning record heading into the middle of January, the question is, do the Clippers have enough talent to make a serious run?
Two seasons ago, this would not be a serious question. Armed with Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, and Blake Griffin, those Clippers were annual title contenders. However, all things must come to an end. Paul was traded to the Houston Rockets, Griffin was dealt to the Detroit Pistons, and Jordan made his way to the Dallas Mavericks. And just like that, it appeared the team was heading toward a rebuild. Not so fast.
Newly acquired players like Tobias Haris and Avery Bradley have fit in nicely with Danilo Gallinari, Lou Williams, and Montrezl Harrell. While most teams have relied on a duo or trio of stars, the Clippers have relied on a team aspect to get them where they are, But will it last, and if not, is there a way to fix it so it’s possible?
The Lakers are still the hot spot for free agents but why should they be? Is it everyone’s desire to play with an aging LeBron? The Clippers, despite being the sister team in Staples may have a higher ceiling than their Purple & Gold roommates. In order for them to stake claim as the best team in LA, they will need to upgrade their roster just a bit.
Here are 3 early trade target for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons)
Defense is the name of the game. For years, the Clippers leaned on DeAndre Jordan to clean up any mistakes made on the perimeter. Now, the Clippers have a Texas-size hole in the paint and find themselves ranked 20th in team defense. Adding a player like Drummond will remedy a few of their issues.
For starters, the Clippers will love to have Drummonds’ 15.1 rebounds per to go along with his 1.7 Blocks per game. He’s also averaging 16.7 points while shooting .498 percent from the floor while spearheading a top 10 defense.
No one on the Clippers roster can match the production that Drummond will bring to the team. The downside of adding Drummond will be his contract. He’s still on the books for $25.4 this season and another $27 million in 2019 before his player option of $28.7 kicks in in 2020. Will the Clippers be willing to handcuff themselves to such a large deal moving forward?
Kemba Walker (Charlotte Hornets)
Another area of concern for the Clippers may be their PG play. The addition of Patrick Beverly (6.5 points, 3.4 assists) has not paid off as they thought it would. The same goes for the young floor general Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (9.6 points, 2.8 assists). There has to be a changing of the guards here. Kemba Walker should be a top priority.
Whatever the Hornets may want for Walker, the Clipper should be willing to deal. A core that features Gallinari, Harris, Harrell, and Walker will be enough to make the playoffs in the Western Conference.
Walker has continued to shine this season. On the year, he’s averaging 25.2 points and 5.7 assists per. His outside shooting will give Gallinari and Harris the spacing they need to penetrate and get to the rim.
Hassan Whiteside (Miami Heat)
Yes, back to the paint area again. The Clippers best rebounder is Harris who averages 7.3 per game. This needs to improve. Adding Whiteside who grabs 12.4 while blocking 2.4 shots per game will be the missing link. While Whiteside is no longer the young darling he once was for the Heat, that doesn’t mean his production has slipped.
On the year, he averaging just 26.2 minutes per game and yet, he’s still putting up All-Star-like numbers. Imagine the damage he could do for a Clippers team in desperate need of his skill set?
His time with the Heat has been full of ups and downs, however, when giving quality minutes Whiteside has still produced. If the Los Angeles Clippers are serious about contending, a call to Pat Riley would be in their best interest. Whiteside could change their season.
Source: “Los Angeles” – Google News