You know Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Who are the other LA Clippers?
Leonard and George are the superstar duo that leads the Clippers, but there is more to the Utah Jazz’s latest postseason opponent.
When the Utah Jazz face off against the LA Clippers Tuesday night in Salt Lake City in the Western Conference semifinals, all eyes will be on the visitors’ stars, and rightfully so.
Even the most casual of NBA fans have heard of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, who arrived in Los Angeles together last season with the goal of winning an NBA title, if not more than one. And yet, two players don’t make a team and the Clippers have one of the most talented teams in the NBA.
Who do they have besides Leonard and George?
It is time to get to know the opposition.
Leonard and George are only two of the Clippers’ regular starters. Who are the other three? As it turns out, there are actually four other regular starters for LA, depending on the matchup, as shown in the Clippers’ first-round series against the Dallas Mavericks. Let’s begin with the constants, though.
Marcus Morris Sr.
- 6-foot-8, 218 pounds.
- 13.4 points per game.
- 4.1 rebounds per game.
If the the Clippers were to have a “Big 3,” Morris would likely have the best argument to be included. A versatile defender who is called upon to defend nearly every position, Morris has legitimate 3-point range — he shot 47.3% from being the arc this season — and the ability, when absolutely necessary, to become a primary offensive option. A nine-year pro out of Kansas, Morris didn’t have the best series against the Mavericks, but he is a key cog in what the Clippers do.
- 6-foot-2, 208 pounds.
- 10.7 points per game.
- 3.1 assists per game.
Now the Clippers’ starting point guard — he was a reserve as recently as Game 2 of the Dallas series — Jackson was a pickup on the buyout market (during the 2020 season) who has become an integral part of LA’s success. Jackson played in 67 games during the regular season and shot a career-best 43.3% from 3-point range. A one-time max player with the Detroit Pistons, Jackson was excellent against the Mavericks, averaging 15.4 points a game, and could be a wild card against the Jazz.
- 6-foot-8, 230 pounds.
- 8.1 points per game.
- 4.7 rebounds per game.
This is where the line between starter and reserve begins to blur a little. For much of the season, Batum was the Clippers’ sixth man, but he shifted into the starting lineup against the Mavericks after LA fell behind in the series. A 12-year pro out of France, Batum has been a key piece on a good Portland Trail Blazers team, an overpaid disaster on a horrible Charlotte Hornets team, and now a solid-to-good forward on the Clippers. Like Morris and Jackson, Batum shot well from behind the arc during the regular season (40.4%), but dropped off a bit in the series against the Mavericks. His all-around versatile game and ability to guard every position makes him a plug and play type of player.
- 7-foot-0, 240 pounds.
- 9.0 points per game.
- 7.2 rebounds per game.
For much of the season, Zubac was the Clippers’ starting center and a good one at that. The four-year pro out of Croatia played in all 72 regular season games and was largely the Clippers’ main option in the paint. He started the first three games of the Dallas series, before the adjustment was made to shift him to the bench. Against the Jazz and Rudy Gobert, though, Zubac will likely have to make a significant reappearance (he played only three minutes in the Clippers’ Game 7 win over the Mavs).
This won’t be a listing of every other player on the Clippers’ roster. In the playoffs, rotations tighten and lineups shorten, usually to about seven or eight players. Against the Mavericks, the Clippers and head coach Tyronn Lue largely settled on a lineup of eight or nine players, with a little fluctuation.
- A 6-foot-5 forward out of Florida State, Mann has become one of the Clippers’ most relied-upon reserves this postseason thanks to his defensive versatility. By the end of the Dallas series, Mann was LA’s most consistent bench player.
- One of the best defensive guards in the NBA, Beverley was a starter much of the year, but was moved to the bench early on during the Dallas series as the Clippers needed more offense.
- A 3-point sharpshooter out of Duke, the 6-foot-5 Kennard shot nearly 46% (45.6) from 3-point range during the regular season, but is only shooting 33% from behind the arc during the playoffs.
- The former Boston Celtic and Los Angeles Laker, not to mention multitime NBA champion, was brought in to provide stability at the point guard position, arguably LA’s greatest weakness. Against the Mavs, Rondo’s minutes fluctuated significantly, but he will likely be relied upon when games are on the line.
The wild cards
These players have names that fans will recognize, but due to injuries they likely won’t make much of an impact in the series.
- Ibaka has starred for the Oklahoma City Thunder and was a vital piece in the Toronto Raptors’ NBA title run, but a back injury early this season has left him a shell of his former self. At least for now.
- The former Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans star has bounced around the NBA in recent seasons, after injuries upended what was once one of the most promising careers. Cousins could see spot minutes if the Clippers decide to go big as an answer to Gobert, but he didn’t play a single minute against the Mavericks.