Sports: LA Clippers Step Into The Spotlight
by Christian James
Los Angeles has always been centered around the Lakers due to their amazing legacy, especially this season after acquiring superstar, LeBron James.
This put the Lakers back into the spotlight while the Los Angeles Clippers were hidden in the shadows. Many people counted out the Clippers ever since they traded away their franchise player – Blake Griffin – to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic, and future draft picks.
The Clippers had a solid group, but many would still look down upon them. ESPN predicted that the Clippers would only reach 33 wins this season, being one of the worst teams in the Western Conference. This doubt gave the team a chip on their shoulder, motivating them more than ever.
Leading into the All-Star break, the Clippers traded away Mike Scott and their recently obtained players, Tobias Harris and Boban Marajanovic, receiving Landry Shamet, Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, and future draft picks in return.
The Clippers took a lot of criticism for this trade, but in the end this trade would be crucial for them. The Clippers at this point had a record of (30-26) above the Lakers who had a (28-29) losing record. Even having a better record, the spotlight was still on LeBron and the Lakers. LeBron brought a lot of attention to them when he told the media his “playoff mode” was activated earlier than usual. Many people had high hopes for the Lakers and didn’t give the Clippers much thought at all.
By the end of the regular season, the Clippers clinched the eight seed in the playoffs, leaving the Lakers in the dust. For the first time in a while, the Clippers were in the spotlight over the Lakers. They finished with a (48-34) record, going beyond most people’s expectations including ESPN.
The only thing now in their path was trying to beat the powerhouse team of the league, the Golden State Warriors. With outstanding efforts from veterans Lou Williams and Patrick Beverley and breakout performances by rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Montrezel Harrell the Clippers would put up a fight.
Although these players would step up huge for the Clippers, their efforts would not be strong enough to beat the Warriors. The Clippers would lose their series 4-2 in the first round. In the end, the Clippers proved many of their doubters wrong even though they didn’t finish the season the way they wanted to.
Going into the off-season, the Clippers have some of their key players – Beverley and Ivica Zubac – becoming free agents. After this seasons’ performance and the Clippers recent action of extending Doc Rivers’ coaching contract, they have certainly increased their chances of being a favored location for free agents to end up.
They have the ability to sign Kawhi Leonard, who becomes a free agent after this season, and trade for another superstar due to them having great amount of cap space, maybe even Anthony Davis.