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NBA Disney Contenders or Pretenders: Los Angeles Clippers

Following a four-month hiatus as a result of COVID-19, the NBA is getting ready for a long-anticipated league restart. Beginning on July 31st, the top 22 teams will compete at Disney World’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla. Given that there will be a secured “bubble”, concerns over the spread of COVID-19, and no fans, it’s safe to say that this will be a season finish unlike any other. Taking the unique NBA landscape into consideration, the Last Word on Pro Basketball staff continues this contenders or pretenders series with the Los Angeles Clippers.

NBA Disney Bubble Contenders or Pretenders: Los Angeles Clippers

Two-Way Play

Los Angeles is not only loaded with talent, but they are loaded with two-way players. The vast majority of their team can score from all around the court, as well as lockdown their opponents on the defensive end. Having Kawhi Leonard and Paul George leading this team has contributed mightily to this style of play. Leonard is arguably the greatest two-way player in the entire NBA, with George high on the list as well.

This is going to be greatly needed if they hope to make it past some of the top teams in the west such as the Los Angeles Lakers. Having players who can score at a high clip, and slow down the likes of LeBron James and Anthony Davis at the same time is going to be the key to stopping that team.

The Stars Need to be Stars

Everyone knows that Leonard and George are the stars of the Clippers. Throughout the regular season, they have consistently shown that they can take over and win games for their team. Sustaining this level of consistency is going to be key if they wish to be true contenders. Leonard has shown throughout his career that he doesn’t shy away from big moments. This also holds true for George, but only during the regular season.

In the past, George has had a tendency to disappear in the playoffs when his team needs him the most. While this wasn’t as much of a trend during his days with the Indiana Pacers, that changed with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Part of it may have been due to injury, however, that doesn’t change the fact that he choked when his team needed him the most. The Clippers are going to need both Leonard and George to be at the top of their game if they want to make and win the NBA Finals this season.

Health is Key

Maintaining a healthy roster will be very important throughout the Disney bubble. While every team wants to stay healthy, many players for the Clippers are at a bit higher risk. George is the first name that comes to mind as he has a long history of injuries. Most notably is the severe shoulder injury he sustained before the 2019 NBA Playoffs. Leonard has also had his fair share of injuries in the past which may be a concern to Los Angeles.

While keeping both Leonard and George healthy is going to be the main focus, they are much more than just two players. They possess a very deep and talented roster of players who play a major role in their team. Montrezl Harrell is the first player who comes to mind. Averaging over 18 points and 7 rebounds per game while playing elite defense is something the Clippers can’t afford to lose.

The possibility of losing some of their veteran role players such as Patrick Beverley or Lou Williams also has to be a major concern for this franchise. All of these players play critical roles both offensively and defensively. While keeping the stars healthy is priority number one, losing even one of these players could be devastating.

Los Angeles Clippers Verdict: Contenders

While they do have some obstacles, there is no doubt that the Clippers are contenders. They have two of the best players on the NBA on their roster and have proven they have what it takes to beat many of the top teams in the league.

They have the tools to get there, but it will not be easy. While the Lakers are their top threat, they can’t take teams like the Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, or Utah Jazz lightly. If any of those teams get hot the Clippers may see their championship hopes diminish. Regardless, the Clippers have everything needed to go out and contend for a title.

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