With 17 games left, the Los Angeles Clippers have a chance to prove that they are a true competitor in the Western Conference. Currently, the Clippers reside in eighth place, but they are only 1.5 games behind the fourth-seed New Orleans Pelicans. Their remaining schedule includes competing teams, such as the Houston Rockets, New Orleans Pelicans, the Portland Trail Blazers, and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Though these final games will be difficult, it will ultimately prove if the Clippers are or are not a true force in the tough Western Conference.
Since All-Star weekend, the Clippers are 6-3 with impressive wins over the Denver Nuggets and Cleveland Cavaliers. They have achieved this record without their injured starting shooting guard Avery Bradley and starting small forward Danilo Gallinari. During these games, Tobias Harris has proven to be a tremendous acquisition for the Clippers. He has allowed the Clippers to spread out the court and his consistent jump shot is always a threat. Though he is the second best isolation player on the team after Lou Williams, Harris does a great job of not trying to do too much but finding his shots within the Clippers’ system. DeAndre Jordan has yet again shown that he is a monster on the boards, rebounding for 18, 23, and 20 in the last three games.
Though the Clippers do not have any All-Star caliber players, they are a sleeper team to be feared as they have great role players who are unselfish and know how to play with each other. The most impressive role player has been Montrezl Harrell. In the last ten games, he is averaging 16.2 points per game on 68% field goal percentage and one block per game.
The Clippers will give him the ball at around the mid-range area and allow him to go one on one with the player that is guarding him. Using his great strength, he will either post-up the player or use his speed to bulldoze towards the basket. Because of his great strength and speed, he almost always successfully gets to the basket, where he will shoot a hook shot. His hook shot is nearly impossible to block due to the arc of the shot and has given Harrell much success in scoring production. Not only is he now an offensive threat, he is a great defender as his athleticism allows him to contest shots around the rim. Though he is not as big as DeAndre Jordan, Harrell himself is a good rim protector and does a solid job in clogging up the paint. Whenever he comes off the bench, he has great energy and transfers this energy over to the team, who in turn, play with more spirit and excitement.
The Los Angeles Clippers are the only team out of the competing teams in the Western Conference that do not have an All-Star caliber player. However, consistent and solid players, such as Tobias Harris, improving role players, such as Montrezl Harrell, and veteran leaders, such as Lou Williams and DeAndre Jordan, give the Clippers a chance at competing with the best teams in the NBA. They will need to prove that they are a team to be feared in the next 17 games.