LeBron James and the Lakers Just Stole Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers’ Best Chance at Winning a Ring
During the 2019-20 NBA season, the LA Lakers and the LA Clippers were the two favorites to win the NBA championship. However, Kawhi Leonard and the Clippers drastically underperformed in the playoffs, while LeBron James and the Lakers achieved their goal of winning the championship. Now, the Clippers are taking another L, as the Lakers have stolen their best chance at winning a ring. They did this by adding former Clippers star Montrezl Harrell.
The Lakers won the championship while the Clippers were a disappointment
Many people chose the LA Clippers to win the NBA championship during the 2019-20 season. The Clippers took the Golden State Warriors, with Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, to six games in the First Round of the playoffs in 2018-19. They then added the reigning NBA Finals MVP, at the time, in Kawhi Leonard, and another superstar in Paul George.
The Clippers performed pretty well throughout the year in 2019-20. They finished second in the Western Conference, behind the Lakers, as Leonard averaged 27.1 points per game, 7.1 rebounds, and 4.9 assists, while George averaged 21.5 points per game, 5.7 rebounds, and 3.9 assists. What made them so successful, though, was the play of Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell, who both scored over 18 points per game. Harrell ended up winning the Sixth Man of the Year award, too.
However, the Clippers had a disappointing run in the playoffs. They took a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference Semifinals over the Denver Nuggets, but the Nuggets came back and won in seven games.
This helped lead to the Lakers, led by Anthony Davis and LeBron James, winning the 2019-20 NBA championship. James, Davis, and the Lakers defeated the Nuggets in five games in the Western Conference Finals, and then the Miami Heat in six games in the NBA Finals.
Montrezl Harrell has become a star
Harrell was a second-round pick by the Houston Rockets in the 2015 NBA draft, but he has made many people regret passing on him. After averaging just 3.6 points per game in 2015-16, Harrell averaged 9.1 points per game for the Rockets in 2016-17.
The Rockets then traded Harrell to the Clippers in 2017 in the Chris Paul deal, and that’s where Harrell became a star. After averaging 11 points per game and four rebounds with the Clippers in 2017-18, Harrell took a big step production-wise in 2018-19, as he averaged 16.6 points per game, 6.5 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks.
During the 2019-20 season, though, Harrell had the best season of his career. He averaged 18.6 points per game, 7.1 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks. Harrell’s play helped him earn the 2019-20 Sixth Man of the Year award.
The LA Lakers and Montrezl Harrell have agreed to a deal
According to ESPN, the Lakers agreed to a two-year deal with Harrell on Nov. 20. The deal is worth $9.25 million in the first season and $9.72 million in the second season. Harrell also has a player option for the second year.
This deal gives the Lakers yet another scorer to go with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the newly acquired Dennis Schroder. It also gives the Lakers a high-energy guy and a solid rebounder.
What it really does, though, is it takes away one of the Clippers’ top weapons. The Clippers had the success that they had last season because of Leonard, George, Williams, and Harrell. Now, they are not only coming off a disappointing loss in the playoffs, but they just lost one of those top players.
The LA Lakers might have just taken the Clippers’ best chance at winning an NBA championship while securing their own NBA title hopes.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference