Los Angeles Clippers: A path exists to being the West favorites in 2019

The Los Angeles Clippers surprised everyone this season and even took the defending Golden State Warriors to six games in the NBA Playoffs.

This season was supposed to be a throwaway season for the Los Angeles Clippers, at least that was the narrative heading into the season for Jerry West and company.

With cap space due for the upcoming offseason and a lack of any true stars, the Clippers were expected to fall out of the playoff picture in the tough Western Conference this season and seemingly would have been better off tanking for a chance at Zion Williamson.

However, that is not what the Clippers did and instead gained very valuable experience in the process.

Los Angeles continued to shock the NBA world with their playoff positioning and even continued to win games after trading their best player, Tobias Harris, to the Philadelphia 76ers.

It seemed like a death wish when the Clippers had to square off against the Golden State Warriors and it ended up being just that. However, the Clippers actually played the Warriors much tougher than any team has played them in the first round since the Warriors’ run began and took the team to six games.

Now, the emphasis is on the offseason and what the Clippers do with the cap space. There is enough cap space right now for one max guy and some role players and the Clippers can easily shave off some more salary to create enough room for two max guys.

Nothing is a lock in the NBA but after the team’s strong performance and with the franchise’s strong foundation there is a reason to believe that the Los Angeles Clippers will land at least one star.

In fact, it is not absurd to claim that the Clippers could even become the favorites in the Western Conference if the right things play out, which are not all that unrealistic.

First and foremost, the Clippers would have to add star power. Kawhi Leonard appears to be the number one target for the team and it actually seems fairly likely that if he leaves Toronto he will sign with the Clippers.

If Leonard is all the team gets in terms of star power they will be great. The Clippers could then re-sign key role players, such as Patrick Beverley, while also bringing in impact role players, maybe in the form of a reunion with a guy like J.J. Redick.

Regardless, the Clippers would have a team that is a year more experienced than last year with added pieces and an improvement from Harris to Leonard.

Heck, the Clippers could probably even afford Leonard and another all-star caliber player such as Nikola Vucevic to round out the roster.

Regardless, if a second star is indeed coming to LA the Clippers can take their medicine and easily deal Danilo Gallinari, who had a breakout year, to make enough space. Keeping Gallinari and adding two stars would be the best-case scenario but the team would likely have to deal Gallinari.

Then take into account the rest of the Western Conference. There is a reason to believe that Kevin Durant is going to leave the Golden State Warriors and probably sign with the New York Knicks. Durant was the best player in the playoff series and quite frankly the Warriors could have lost without his career performances in the first round.

Don’t get me wrong, a Warriors team with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green is still title-worthy but is much more beatable if the Clippers have two stars of their own and the Warriors do not have KD.

The Los Angeles Lakers are a mess and might be the Clippers’ best competition if they land a second star, but with them, you cannot believe it until you see it.

The Houston Rockets’ title window might be closing but certainly would give the Clippers a run for their money. The Oklahoma City Thunder have the talent but have not performed at all in the postseason. The Portland Trailblazers are fun but not deep enough to beat this Clippers team with two added stars.

The list goes on and on and with every team in the Western Conference, you can make the case that the Los Angeles Clippers would be legitimately better.

Of course, we cannot count the eggs until they are hatched and until the Clippers sign that first superstar I would reserve the excitement. However, if the offseason goes as planned, the Clippers could quickly become the best team in the Western Conference.