It is finally September, meaning that NBA training camp and preseason begin. The excitement has been building for the LA Clippers since the end of last season. A roster returning with the addition of former All-NBA point guard, John Wall, brings about many rotation questions. Training camp and preseason will give fans some indications of potential fits and substitution patterns. But projecting the Clippers’ starters is a tough challenge given how deep and versatile the roster is. And frankly, that is not the worst thing in the world with one of the best coaches in the league leading the helm.
Projecting the Clippers’ Starters
Ty Lue will be equipped with one of the most loaded rosters he has had since his days with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kawhi Leonard’s return along with Paul George gives Lue at least two locks for his starters and closing lineups. But what will the rest of the rotation consist of?
As mentioned previously, it is quite obvious that Leonard and George will occupy two wing spots in the starting lineup. Another lock is center Ivica Zubac. This is most likely given the Clippers’ lack of a backup center signed to the roster (Moses Brown is on a training camp deal). Additionally, they will likely not start small, so Zubac is the obvious third lock.
The fourth spot is in contention between Nicolas Batum, Robert Covington, and Marcus Morris at the power forward position. One could argue that Norman Powell has a case to start as well, pushing one of Leonard or George to the four. However, the latter is far less likely as Lue has shown a preference for starting bigger on the wing. Especially given George’s skillset at 6″9. Starting him at the two gives the Clippers an advantage that most teams do not have.
I predict that Covington gets the fourth spot with the starters. Batum’s workload as a small ball five and defending multiple positions could see a decrease this season as the team makes sure he is fresh for the postseason. Covington is also two years younger than Morris and Batum, which is a minor factor in the decision. Both Batum and Covington are also better defenders and rebounders than Morris which gives them a slight edge. But in the end, I believe that Covington gets the nod as Batum is saved for the playoffs and Morris’ offense is not as needed because of my next prediction.
That brings us to the starting point guard spot. It is reported that Reggie Jackson and Wall are competing for the spot. Jackson is the better shooting fit along the stars. Additionally, he provides solid pick-and-roll playmaking. Wall gives the unit a downhill attack and another pick-and-roll initiator. In recent footage, Wall looks fresh and his jumper is solid. His length and athleticism give him a defensive edge over Jackson. The shooting is always going to be the biggest concern. But the potential of him and Zubac in the pick-and-roll, defense, and aggressive pace-pushing makes me lean towards him.