In every sport, certain names are always met with reverence; for the NBA, it’s hard to get bigger than Jerry West. While other players may have been better showmen or more impressive physical specimens, there’s a reason he inspired the NBA logo. When Mr. Cluch, who currently works for the Los Angeles Clippers, talks about anything, you listen.
Despite playing and coaching for the Lakers, West is quite impressed by his current club. In fact, he even thinks that the Clippers roster is unlike any squad that he’s ever seen.
The Los Angeles Clippers’ offseason improvements
In Los Angeles, the Lakers are the traditional top-dog on the hardwood, thanks to stars like Jerry West, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James. The Clippers, however, are trending in the right direction. They’ve made the playoffs eight of the last nine seasons, but haven’t been able to get over the hump. This summer, though, they took some major steps to try to change that reality.
In July, the Clippers shipped two players, five first-round picks, and the rights to swap two additional picks to the Oklahoma City in exchange for Paul George. Los Angeles wasn’t done there, however; they also signed Kawhi Leonard, who helped the Toronto Raptors capture their first even NBA title, in free agency.
While it took a while for George and Leonard to play together—the former forward had offseason shoulder surgery, while the latter has been working through a knee problem—the move has paid off. The Clippers currently have the fifth-best record in the league, and they’ll only improve as their two stars start to gel.
Why Jerry West likes what he’s seeing
While Jerry West made his name with the Lakers, he’s currently serving as an advisor to the Los Angeles Clippers’ front office. Working in pro sports can be stressful, but West isn’t feeling the pressure; he’s incredibly happy with what he’s seeing on the court each night.
“I don’t think I’ve seen a team like this since I’ve been in the league — we’ve got four guys on the team that are capable of scoring and averaging 20 points a night,” West told Helene Elliot of the Los Angeles Times.
“I see a team that is really talented. It’s got all the ingredients that you would want to have for a team that would be at the top of the mountain, and I think that’s all you can hope for,” he continued. “I’ve been with a lot of teams and had some great bunch of guys and everything. You’re never going to find a nicer group of people than these. Never. Great people. And that in itself is refreshing because there are no side dramas here.”
How far can the Los Angeles Clippers really go?
While it’s easy to write the Los Angeles Clippers off as a two-man team, Jerry West is right. They have four players—Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Lou Williams, and Montrezl Harrell—who are capable of stepping up and making a difference on a given night. That should serve them well when they’re going up against other super teams down the stretch; if you try to double team George or Leonard, there’s always another option.
538 currently gives the Clippers the second-best overall chance of winning the NBA title, but it won’t be easy. They’ll likely have to go through at least one of the Lakers and the Rockets to escape from the Western Conference; if they make it to the finals, their probably series with the Bucks won’t be a walk-over, either. Jerry West, however, isn’t concerned.
“I think the Lakers are really good. But I would take our chances against any team in the league,” he explained. “When this team is fully put together, when our coaches know our players, I would not bet against this team, period.”