The Los Angeles Clippers are just now getting their second-best player into the mix, but the team has already looked downright dominant at its best. Although the team had to get rid of key players from last year’s roster to bring in Paul George, the team is just as stacked as it was last year. That’s without mentioning the addition of reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard to make things more painful.
The team’s offensive schemes, in particular, are driving defenses bonkers. They play to the individual players’ talents and leave defenses spinning as they don’t know who to guard.
What play is the Clippers’ go-to play?
The Clippers already have an offense that Michael Pina of SB Nation calls “death by a thousand chainsaws.” Doc Rivers is no stranger to getting the best out of a loaded roster, and the Clippers might be his best example yet. Although Rivers had Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen in Boston, the latter two were past their primes, and a young Rajon Rondo had not yet entered his.
The Clippers have been using Kawhi Leonard as a facilitator more than any team in the past. It is paying dividends for the team’s success without George there to make it even scarier. One particular play action has Leonard taking the ball from the top, Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell setting dual-screens, and Leonard driving it inside, where defenses have to simultaneously track him, a potentially open Williams, and a driving Harrell in the process.
It is this type of play that makes the Clippers so scary. While many teams gravitate toward an outside-first strategy, the Clippers are scoring on all fronts. Defenses don’t know who to guard at any particular moment without leaving another potential deadly scorer open in the process. Even scarier for Clippers opponents, the team will soon have Paul George there, adding a potential fourth cog to the mix.
Paul George’s impact on the Clippers
Depending on the play, the Clippers could run screens such as the one described above that open the floor up even more. If George takes the Williams role, Williams could run around the outside, potentially setting another high-screen, and as Leonard collapses, George could get open on the outside, drive the ball himself, or act as a distraction for a wide-open Williams.
Doc Rivers has always been a dynamic coach, but the Clippers have the potential to be his masterpiece. This particular play will be a go-to for the Clippers all season. Still, the fact of the matter is that if all four players are on the court, as they more than likely will be during closer games, any play can yield similar results, as defenses cannot afford to collapse on any player on the court.
The Clippers already proved to be a pain for teams last year with their ability to get under the skin of players last year. This season, they are deeper up front, and the other players on the roster add another dynamic to the roster.
The role players complement Kawhi Leonard and Paul George
Lou Williams is already a bench player with a larger role than most, but he fits seamlessly with the Clippers’ starting unit. The team is loaded with talent who is either maintaining or expanding what made the team special last year. The addition of Mo Harkless from Portland helps add some of the depth they sent to Oklahoma City in the George trade. Last year’s acquisition of Ivica Zubac is paying dividends in the frontcourt this season.
And don’t forget about Patrick Beverley. He’s a player who exists solely for annoying other players with his defense and possibly getting into their heads in the process. Beverley helps to do all the little things the Clippers need to get into the heads of their opponents, and he can potentially do so without touching the ball.
The Clippers operate like a symphony with Rivers as the conductor. While the soloists can carry the masterpiece themselves, every player fits wonderfully who could help conclude this young season with a grand finale that no other team in the NBA can touch.