NBA

Clippers analysis: The 3 most interesting formations for THE next season

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After a deliberately quiet offseason, the roster heading into the 2022-23 NBA season for the Los Angeles Clippers appears to be pretty solidly established. While some details regarding the rotation have yet to be determined by head coach Tyronn Lue (and they may not be until training camp in September), we already know roughly which jerseys will be worn on opening night.

Continuity, versatility, team-oriented professionalism all seemed to be fundamental principles upon which this current roster — perhaps the best roster in Clippers history — was assembled. With that in mind, here’s a look at some of the more interesting rosters I’d like to see from this iteration of the Clippers next season.

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Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

#3 — The 40% Club: Powell, Kennard, George, Morris Sr., Batum

It’s probably the most potent 3-point shooting formation Lue and the Clippers can throw next season. It includes two former league leaders in 3PT%, Marcus Morris Sr. and Luke Kennard, as well as Nicolas Batum, Norman Powell and Paul George, three other guys who, you guessed it, are shooting over 40% from 3.

This formation’s best situation would be an addition to Lue’s arsenal with which, at the right times, Lue can rain down a barrage of 3s. It’s a mini guerrilla with immense shooting prowess, a long-range skill nitro boost.

Imagine, if you will, a closely contested game in the first two and a half quarters. Then suddenly you see five Clippers jerseys getting ready to check in. “What is Ty Lue doing?” you ask. The ‘40% Club’ is replaced.

They cash three or four 3s in two minutes. They are replaced. And the Clippers ride that dampens the rest of the game until victory. You never doubt Ty Lue again. Another use case could be a “break the glass in an emergency” type game, in otherwise lost games. But really, it’s at Lue’s discretion.

This range isn’t necessarily a throwaway on defense either. Powell, George and Batum have all proven to be above average, if not elite, NBA defenders. Kennard has vastly improved in both effort and instinct at this end of the field, and Morris Sr. also has the experience and physical strength to defend. Especially in spurts, and especially given the league’s gradual shift towards small ball, this formation can more than get by.

Admittedly, I’m taking a few liberties here. Namely, the inclusion of Paul George and Marcus Morris Sr., who both failed to break the 40% deep mark last season. However, I attribute George’s last season to injury, and I’m still including him here based on his past work, which includes a 41.1% 3-point field goal percentage in his two first seasons with the Clippers (2019-20, 2020-21).

Marcus Morris Sr. also shot just 36.7 percent from 3 last season. He did, however, lead the league in 3-point field goal percentage, with an accuracy rate of 47.3%, just a year ago. And, presumably, his mark this coming season should be closer to that, as Morris Sr. will once again be able to face healthy Kawhi Leonard and Paul George.

But, if you have to be picky about it, Covington, whose shooting was a bit more inconsistent but posted a clip above 40% from deep last season, could be replaced by either.

New Orleans Pelicans v Los Angeles Clippers - Play-In Tournament

#2 — The Starless Night: Jackson, Kennard, Mann, Morris Sr., Zubac

Of all the lineups in this article, this is perhaps the one that shines the brightest. Undoubtedly, there will be games where one or both Clippers stars are forced to sit on the bench, for one reason or another. In this case, it is a fully competent and complete lineup, without any real stars, which can be discarded as a stopgap.

Whether starting, or more likely, as one of the league’s most talented bench units, it’s not just a collection of quality rotational pieces, but it’s a group of guys who have proven that their styles go well together.

And Clippers teams of the past, especially in the Doc Rivers era, have had tremendous success with a somewhat self-contained second unit. I think of the “A Tribe Called Bench” days, or the Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell duo. In a similar vein, the depth of this current squad is evidenced by how this bench can be stacked.

And while other players may pull off the sixth man gig (Norman Powell), or even be higher on the rotation board than these guys (Batum, Covington), this roster, as a stand-alone team, has the potential to absolutely terrorize other shoals. across the league.

I mean, that was effectively the core group for the 2020-21 season, when Paul George missed 51 games. It also features some of the oldest players currently on the team, so the familiarity that comes with continuity may make it a more reliable weapon in Lue’s arsenal, especially early in the season.

Honorable mentions

I chose not to include the starting lineup in this article, as the only really interesting aspect of this discussion is the Wall/Jackson starting point guard debate (which apparently will be settled in training camp anyway, so why speculate?). At a high school level, which of Powell, Batum, Morris Sr. or Covington will start alongside Wall/Jackson, George, Leonard and Zubac is a conversation. But still not juicy enough to deserve a spot on this list.

Another formation that I’m interested in but don’t think we’ll see much of will be what I like to call the “Young Guns”. This combination of 25-and-under players will likely be a permutation of Jason Preston, Brandon Boston Jr., Terance Mann, Amir Coffey, Ivica Zubac and Moussa Diabaté.

Unfortunately, I don’t see much playing time to invest in developing these young players this season, except in the explosive games. Not in a season as grueling as the next one will be. And not when the Clippers could deploy this team instead:

2021 NBA Playoffs - Utah Jazz vs. LA Clippers

Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images

#1 – Wingstop: Mann, George, Leonard, Covington, Batum

The Wingstop playstyle really encompasses a variety of lineups, all centered around the idea of ​​stringing together five two-way wings and seeing what happens. My colleague Justin Russo has already covered, in detail, the most notable variations of this philosophy, so I won’t dwell too long here.

In that article, he dubbed those five players I listed above as the “We’re here to change everything and disrupt your existence” lineup. And this, I believe, is the most enticing of the Clippers’ possible weapons.

The “Wing” part of Wingstop is apparent, but this range also perfectly captures the “Stop” part of it. Its defining characteristic is clearly the combination of capable on-ball defenders in Terance Mann, Kawhi Leonard and Nicolas Batum and disciplined off-ball defenders in Paul George and Robert Covington. At best, the frontline can stifle opposing attacks at their point of attack, while the backline covers passing lanes and punishes mistakes.

And on offense, Mann’s downhill ability, George and Leonard’s nuanced repertoire, and Covington and Batum’s shooting ability ensure this is a deadly switchable defensive scheme while still remaining an offensive unit. complete.

While that exact swap of guys won’t close most games (I have to imagine Norman Powell, the Clippers’ third-best player, on paper, will be there in critical time), I have no doubt this roster will gain a few .

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