If the Clippers are on the lookout for a blueprint for turning a drain-circling season right into a Finals run, they do not need to look far. Last season, the Boston Celtics have been 25-24 on Jan. 25. This season, the Clippers sport the very same 25-24 document getting into play on Tuesday night time vs. the Lakers.
The similarities between these two groups run deep. Two stars on the prime of a deep roster. The drawback for the Clippers is the standard of that depth hasn’t confirmed as excessive as most anticipated. The drop off between a Paul George, as their second-best participant, and whoever you assume their third-best participant is — to illustrate Ivica Zubac, as an illustration — qualifies as a bonafide chasm.
Though the Celtics had already began to take off final season earlier than buying and selling for Derrick White, his addition was nonetheless essential to their Finals run. There have been instances within the postseason when White was Boston’s most impactful participant for stretches.
The Clippers look like on the lookout for an analogous improve this 12 months, with a place to begin guard and a backup middle being their precedence, per The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor, who floated 4 names as potential Clippers targets: level guards Mike Conley, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet, and outdated good friend Isaiah Hartenstein, who’s now with the Knicks.
Marc Stein reported the Clippers’ curiosity in Conley every week in the past, and certainly Conley would make lots of sense subsequent to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Clippers want a sturdy offensive organizer who may function off ball. Neither Reggie Jackson nor John Wall has been as much as that activity this season. Conley nonetheless matches the invoice, and he stays a viable 3-point menace to house the ground for L.A.’s two stars.
That mentioned, it is VanVleet who would actually transfer the needle. He’s having a down season from 3, however that may change instantly. He’s an elite ball-pressure defender who punches above his weight class. The man is a stud, flat out, and the perfect half is the Raptors are doubtlessly able the place they might be motivated to promote. VanVleet is a free agent this summer season. He needs, and deserves, huge cash. If the Raptors aren’t going to commit long run, transferring FVV now would internet good return.
The Clippers might supply their 2028 first-round decide, which may very well be fairly helpful when and if this Kawhi-PG period runs its course, plus younger participant, doubtlessly a Terrence Mann or Luke Kennard. They even have loads of wage fillers to make the deal work on paper, particularly Wall, Robert Covington, Marcus Morris or Jackson.
As for the backup-center pursuit, O’Connor additionally famous that the Clippers have curiosity in Minnesota’s Naz Reid. To me, this can be a distant second on the precedence record to some extent guard. The Clippers are nearly definitely going to play small of their non-Zubac postseason minutes anyway.
More measurement by no means hurts and also you by no means know if you’ll want to remain huge for a matchup or have a cushion for foul hassle, but when we’re speaking about transferring the championship needle, in my thoughts, we’re speaking about VanVleet, or to a lesser extent Conley, or to a method lesser extent Lowry.