The LA Clippers Free Agency Grades
Over the past few years, the Los Angeles Clippers have lost a few key players to their franchise. Players such as Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and J.J. Redick have moved on to become important pieces to other teams across the NBA. In a region with the Los Angeles Lakers and the Golden State Warriors, the Clippers continue to battle for pristine players.
The 2018 free agency period has been stimulating though.
The Clippers traded Austin Rivers to the Washington Wizards and DeAndre Jordan signed a deal with the Dallas Mavericks. Both players were forerunners for the franchise. Rivers had the benefit of being coached by his dad. He averaged 15.1 points per game last season and played about 33 minutes each game. Jordan was shooting at 64-percent and averaged about 15 rebounds per game.
Their court presence is something this team will have to work hard to replace.
Regardless, the Clippers have worked to add some small role players to create a bigger picture. Here’s the breakdown.
Avery Bradley (Resigned 2-year $25 mil with $14 mil guaranteed)
Bradley is an 8-year veteran who is slightly injury-prone. This past March he had to undergo surgery for a sports hernia. When healthy, Bradley packs a great defensive one-two punch with fellow guard Patrick Beverley. At 30, Bradley continues to bring high energy to the floor. Last season, he shot about 40-percent and averaged 12 ppg. With rookie guard additions Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson, Bradly can be used as an influential leader and knowledgeable veteran.
Wesley Johnson (Player option $6.1 mil – 3-year $18 mil)
Drafted in 2010 at the No. 4 pick, Johnson adds to the veteran depth. He is not as much of a floor presence as Bradley but he does add to the defense and overall strength of the Clippers. He only missed two games last season. His stat lines are short (5.4 ppg, 2.9 rebounds) but he does open up the court, standing at 6-foot-7, and he is known for his wide-open looks and clutch 3-pointers. Johnson has jumped between quite a few teams in his career but L.A. is looking more like home.
Mike Scott (1-year $ N/A)
A brand-new addition and a good one. Scott ranked sixth amongst power forwards in the 2017-18 season for 3-pointers. He shot 40.5-percent from behind the arc in the regular season and 63.6-percent in the postseason. It is surprising that he averaged only 18 minutes per game in the regular season and 21 minutes per game in the postseason. Essentially, he knows how to take advantage of his time on the court and that is what the Clippers need. He is expected to come off the bench behind Danilo Gallinari, but that may change considering Gallinari’s health and declining shooting percentage.
Marcin Gortat (Acquired by trade for Rivers)
Gortat is an attempt to fill Jordan’s spot. He has played 402 out of 410 of his regular season games. For the Wizards this past season, he averaged 8.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, and shot 51.8-percent. At 6-foot-11 and 240 pounds, Gortat does not provide much fluidity outside the paint and struggles to guard centers that are fluid. In addition, Clippers’ center Boban Marjanovic does not provide much difference from Gortat’s playing style. At 34 years-old, the Polish Hammer is not enough to replace Jordan’s presence.
Luc Mbah a Moute (1-year $4.3 mil)
A true defensive steal from the Houston Rockets. Mbah a Moute was a key piece in Houston’s rise to one of the top defensive teams last season. Their defense was 4.3 points per 100 possessions better when Mbah a Moute was on the court. Plus, the forward shot 36.4-percent from behind the arc. If Mbah a Moute can remain healthy, his impact will turn the Clippers into a real contender for playoffs.
A Team To Watch
The Clippers still have Tyrone Wallace and Montrezl Harrell on the table. With their current additions to the guard and forward positions, this team has done a good job with security if those players decide to leave.
Overall, the Clippers are front-loaded with guards and have the most depth in that position. Besides Beverly and Bradley, they have their rookies and sophomores Jawun Evans, Sindarius Thornwell. Add in 2x All-Defense teamer and reigning sixth man of the year, Lou Williams, and the guards alone are a complete arsenal.
The players in the paint have a little more work to do but it will be easier for them to interact on the court with a successful group of guards.
The Clippers were outdone by their neighbors as far as signing huge names like LeBron James and DeMarcus Cousins but that does not mean they are a team not to watch out for. Their additions can equal up to be quite the opponent.