NBA 2019: Battle for Staples Center

This NBA off-season has been one for the history books. The 2019 draft class brought in many big-name players. Free agency has left many heads spinning with big-name players on the move as well as some interesting trades.

Arguably, the most important free-agent signing during this off-season was the Los Angeles Clippers’ signing of Kawhi Leonard and trade for Paul George. This not only made the Clippers instant contenders for a championship, but it also put an end to the “Super-Team” era in the NBA.

For the first time in quite a while, the NBA seems to be wide open. While everyone will be competing for a title this upcoming season the Lakers and the Clippers will also be competing for the city of Los Angeles. This has been the talk of the NBA since Kawhi and PG13 made their move to the Clippers.

This brings up the question of which team has the edge on the other at the moment? We will go over this by splitting the answer up into three categories. Roster, coaching and management are all ways to deep dive into “The Battle of Los Angeles.”

ROSTER

Clippers- The Clippers will have a possible starting lineup of Patrick Beverley, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Montrezl Harrell, and Ivica Zubac. The Clippers have a very strong backcourt defensively with Beverley, George, and Leonard. All three are all-defensive players. Zubac averaged close to 10 PPG with a limited role last season. Harrell is getting better each season posting nearly 17 PPG off the bench a year ago.

The Clippers starting 5 is very solid. Their bench is another area in which they shine. Reigning Sixth Man of the Year Lou Williams’ is coming off of a record breaking season in which he became the all-time leader in points scored off the bench while putting up 20 PPG. Williams provides solid minutes and production while key players need to rest. Role players such as Landry Shamet, Mo Harkless, and Jamychal Green each provide about 10 PPG each. Doc Rivers can rest easy knowing his bench can take care of business while his stars need rest.

Lakers- The Lakers have a possible lineup of LeBron James, Danny Green, Kyle Kuzma, Anthony Davis, and DeMarcus Cousins. With LeBron expected to play point guard this season things should be interesting. He is a veteran presence that should have no problem being a floor general for the team. The Lakers starting 5 has the edge on the Clippers offensively but with Beverley, PG and Kawhi defending, it should be a fun matchup. The Clippers need to improve their frontcourt defensively if they want to stop the offensive power of Cousins and Davis.

The Lakers bench isn’t too bad either. Rondo will command the floor while LeBron takes a seat and players like Caldwell-Pope and Avery Bradley can give solid minutes as well. While this Lakers bench may be serviceable it is no match against the Clippers. Without a scoring machine like Lou Williams, it leaves the Clippers bench with a strong advantage. All things considered, the Clippers have the edge as far as their roster goes.

Coaching

Clippers- This seems to be a no-brainer but we will assess it nonetheless. The Clippers head coach Doc Rivers has seen success in his coaching career. He won a title with Boston in 2008, a finals appearance in 2010 and arguably should have been the coach of the year the previous season as he led the Clippers to the playoffs with zero all-stars all while taking the Warriors to six games and giving them a scare. Doc has posted a .624 winning percentage since he accepted the coaching job with the Clippers and has made the playoffs all but one season with the team.

Lakers- The Lakers have had nothing but coaching problems since the departure of Phil Jackson. The Lakers also have not made the playoffs in six years. While that looks to most certainly change this upcoming season, having a new coach will create some difficulty. Frank Vogel will be coaching his first season with the Lakers after failing to create a winning atmosphere in Orlando. His winning percentage in Orlando was a porous .329%. It seems safe to say that the Clippers have a clear advantage in coaching.

Management

Clippers- The Clippers front office is being consulted by none other than the logo himself. Jerry West has a history of creating dynasties. He helped create a championship Lakers team as well as the Golden State Warriors. West has silently been making moves and creating the team the Clippers have today. Jerry West’s decision to rebuild in 2017 proved to be successful. With the emergence of Kawhi and Paul George, it is clear that Jerry West is clearly the best in the business when it comes to landing stars. He has built an incredible supporting cast for Leonard and George to work with. This season will show if all of Jerry’s hard work will pay off.

Lakers– The Lakers have had a lot of drama in their front office. With the sudden departure of Magic Johnson, it is unclear how the Lakers will be able to succeed in the future. In the meantime, Rob Pelinka has made some solid moves. Choosing to not wait a year for Anthony Davis to hit free agency was the Lakers’ most controversial move of the off-season. They traded all their young talent and three first round picks away for Davis.

This seemed to be too hefty of a price for the young superstar but only time will tell. After failing to sign Kawhi Leonard the Lakers did well in improvising. They signed DeMarcus Cousins, Danny Green and re-signed a few of their previous players. They did not have as good of an off-season as the Clippers but they managed well in spite of their difficulties. As long as Jerry West is in LA he will continue to be the best executive in the sport. The Clippers take this one as well.

The Clippers are without question the better team right now. They had success last season and managed to keep most of their roster all while adding two superstars to their team. The Lakers are no doubt contenders for a title as well but the Clippers have the edge at the moment. It doesn’t hurt that the Clips have the richest owner in the sport as well. This should be a fun rivalry for the years to come.

Christian Shotts

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