Can the Clippers Win the Western Conference?

Kawhi Leonard #2 of the LA Clippers. Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images/AFP

Today we will examine the Clippers’ chances of winning an NBA championship. According to most oddsmakers, the Clippers have the second best chance of winning the Western Conference at +200 depending on where you shop.

Clippers Have What It Takes to Make NBA Finals

The question that I’m looking to answer in this article; can the Clippers win the Western Conference? In my opinion, that’s just another way of asking if we think they can beat the Lakers. Yes, I do think they can do that and more if they reach their peak. There are a few reasons that I believe the Clippers can beat the Lakers but there’s one specific reason that I would actually put my money where my mouth is. The Clippers have two players that have proven in the past that they can defend LeBron James.

Obviously, nobody can stop LeBron but if you can make him work hard, you’re already doing better than the rest of the league. Well, the Clippers have two of them and both are much younger than LeBron. They’ve also both been in high pressure situations versus LeBron (Paul George in the conference finals with Indiana and Kawhi twice in the NBA Finals with the Spurs). Not only are Leonard and George not afraid of LeBron, but they would also relish the challenge of playing him anytime, any place.

The other reason I think the Clippers can win the Western Conference is their depth. I won’t make this article Clippers versus Lakers but it’s the conference finals matchup that most people expect. With that in mind, the Clippers’ main strength is the depth of their squad while it is the biggest weakness the Lakers have. In terms of the rest of the west, the only team that can come close to matching the Clippers depth is Denver. I’ll be the first to admit that I do not believe in the Nuggets’ ability to win the west at all. I’ve spoken about this at length in previous articles but their two “stars” are the worst duo of all the playoff teams (according to the current standings) except Memphis.

The only team that I think can beat the Clippers other than the Lakers is Houston. Again, I have to be honest and say that I do not believe in the Rockets at all. That being said, if I’m being objective, Houston’s small ball gives the Clippers problems. That being said, I give the coaching advantage to the Clippers and Doc Rivers over D’Antoni. Rivers’ ability to adjust on the fly was evident in their last regular season meeting. Meanwhile, Mike D’Antoni is notoriously stubborn and does not like to deviate from his plan.

Other than the Lakers and the Rockets, I don’t really see any realistic challengers for the Clippers. Utah does not have their act together, the Nuggets and Thunder lack the star power to keep up with Leonard and George while the Mavs supporting cast is a little light to compete with the Clippers depth. On top of that, I don’t think Luka would enjoy being guarded by Leonard and George in a seven game series.

Of all of the teams I just mentioned, I do think Dallas could actually give them a tough time because of their superstar and the unique versatility that Kristaps Porzingis possesses. That being said, I don’t think Porzingis will be back to his best until next year which is when I think Dallas will make their move out west. As for the Clippers, they are a great NBA pick at +200 over at BetOnline to win the west.

Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers. Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images/AFP

Layoff Helps Clippers More Than Most

During the season, you could clearly see that Leonard and George were dealing with injury issues. It’s been a theme with Leonard for a few seasons now while George had surgery in the offseason. Both had to be cautious with their minutes and playing in back to back games while they got their bodies ready for the playoffs. With the current global lockdown, they’ve both had two full months to allow their bodies to heal. Of all the reasons I have the Clippers to win the NBA title, this is what puts it over the top for me. NBA odds over at BookMaker, the Clipper are +290 to win the title while at SportsBetting, they are +350 to lift the Larry O’Brian trophy. I have a future bet on the Clippers to win the title because I think of the three teams I think can win it (Bucks, Clippers, Lakers), the Clippers are the most complete team.

Of the three teams listed, who has the most star power? Who has the most squad depth? Who plays the best defense? Who has the best coaching? Who has the most playoff experience on their roster? Other than defense, I think the Clippers are the answers to every other question. Even defensively, while they haven’t been on the Bucks and Lakers level during the regular season, as individuals, when you add Pat Beverly to George and Leonard, that is an absolute nightmare for opposing teams if all three are healthy. Remember, because of the injury concerns, we really haven’t seen the Clippers full roster for more than a handful of games yet they still did enough as a unit to be second in the west. In my opinion, the best version of the Clippers has everything needed to be crowned NBA champions.