Where the Clippers rank via place some of the NBA’s best possible groups
The hard work of the 2022 offseason is mostly over.
Admittedly, the word “mostly” is doing a lot of work for some of these teams and their stars. There is still time for teams to finalize the rosters they bring to training camp in less than seven weeks, and then there will be another three weeks to figure out who will be on final rosters, who will be in rotations and who will be starters to begin the regular season. For now, there is a good understanding of where teams stand.
The LA Clippers look like one of the deepest teams in the league from top to bottom. But positions still matter in terms of breaking down how good a team can be. With that said, I wanted to assess where the Clippers ranked across the league at the five traditional positions: point guard, shooting guard, small forward, power forward and center.
What to know about these rankings
I chose to rank the teams based off their overall strength at each nominal position, while listing each team’s possible starter as a representative of that position. While a team’s reserves are taken into some consideration, the starter is the primary source of evaluation.
Other criteria for these rankings include:
- Basketball: Just to be clear, I don’t have a magic formula for these arbitrary rankings; in general, players who are consistently good and do a variety of things on either end of the floor will rank higher.
- Durability: Injuries exist; there is no “if healthy,” because we know some players won’t play and haven’t played as much as others.
- Morale: Actually wanting to play for current team.
For each table, players highlighted in orange are new veteran additions, while players highlighted in green are 2022 first-round picks. Let’s see where the Clippers are with each spot:
NBA point guard team rankings
|BOS: Marcus Smart (#12)||BRK: Kyrie Irving (#8)||NY: Jalen Brunson (#20)||PHI: James Harden (#7)||TOR: Fred VanVleet (#10)|
|CHI: Lonzo Ball (#26)||CLE: Darius Garland (#9)||DET: Cade Cunningham (#17)||IND: Tyrese Haliburton (#22)||MIL: Jrue Holiday (#13)|
|ATL: Trae Young (#4)||CHA: LaMelo Ball (#11)||MIA: Kyle Lowry (#16)||ORL: Cole Anthony (#28)||WAS: Monte Morris (#29)|
|DEN: Jamal Murray (#23)||MIN: D’Angelo Russell (#24)||OKC: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (#18)||POR: Damian Lillard (#6)||UTA: Mike Conley (#14)|
|GS: Stephen Curry (#1)||LAC: Reggie Jackson (#25)||LAL: Russell Westbrook (#15)||PHO: Chris Paul (#5)||SAC: De’Aaron Fox (#19)|
|DAL: Luka Doncic (#2)||HOU: Kevin Porter Jr. (#27)||MEM: Ja Morant (#3)||NO: CJ McCollum (#21)||SA: Tre Jones (#30)|
Clippers ranking: 25th
Last month, I explained for offseason purposes that I’ll be listing Reggie Jackson ahead of John Wall on depth charts until further notice. At No. 25, this was my lowest positional ranking for the Clippers, which speaks to the depth of the position in the NBA (seriously, there are a lot of good small guards in the NBA; you can always find point guards), and the fact that LA’s best players are not playing this position. Jackson was a usage hog last season, but the Clippers’ offense was understandably one of the worst in the league with Jackson having to do so much for the majority of the year. Only five teams had a lower offensive efficiency rating than the Clippers last season, and Jackson led the team in field goals and assists.
Wall can relate to Jackson’s struggles, as he was the point guard of the NBA’s 27th-ranked offense in 2020-21. Both Jackson and Wall will be set up much better for success next season, and the Clippers will undoubtedly be better on offense. That will be because both players will have the ball in their hands much less than the last time we saw them play. I have the Clippers right below the Minnesota Timberwolves, led by D’Angelo Russell at point guard (a player who destroyed the Clippers in the Play-In Tournament), and just ahead of the Chicago Bulls, where Lonzo Ball’s durability issues continue to put a restriction on what he can do on the floor.
NBA shooting guard team rankings
|BOS: Jaylen Brown (#7)||BRK: Seth Curry (#22)||NY: Evan Fournier (#24)||PHI: Tyrese Maxey (#10)||TOR: Gary Trent Jr. (#23)|
|CHI: Zach LaVine (#3)||CLE: Isaac Okoro (#29)||DET: Jaden Ivey (#28)||IND: Buddy Hield (#20)||MIL: Grayson Allen (#26)|
|ATL: Dejounte Murray (#6)||CHA: Terry Rozier (#13)||MIA: Max Strus (#27)||ORL: Jalen Suggs (#21)||WAS: Bradley Beal (#5)|
|DEN: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (#18)||MIN: Anthony Edwards (#8)||OKC: Josh Giddey (#19)||POR: Anfernee Simons (#17)||UTA: Donovan Mitchell (#4)|
|GS: Klay Thompson (#11)||LAC: Paul George (#2)||LAL: Austin Reaves (#30)||PHO: Devin Booker (#1)||SAC: Kevin Huerter (#25)|
|DAL: Spencer Dinwiddie (#15)||HOU: Jalen Green (#14)||MEM: Desmond Bane (#9)||NO: Herbert Jones (#16)||SA: Devin Vassell (#12)|
Clippers ranking: Second
Paul George leads the shooting guard group for the Clippers, and the only team I felt I could put over LA here was the Phoenix Suns, led by Devin Booker. Last season, Booker was the only shooting guard to be named to an All-NBA team, and he was an MVP candidate for the best regular-season team in the league. George was an All-NBA performer in 2021 and was primed for a big season in 2021-22 until his elbow injury robbed him of three months of the season. George’s durability kept him from awards last season, and it’s a recurring issue for him, as he has missed at least 18 games in each of his three seasons with the Clippers. But as a two-way on-ball presence who shoots the ball well, George still is exceptional at his position, and the Clippers boast excellent depth behind him.
Rounding out the top-five behind Phoenix and LA are the Bulls (led by All-Star Zach LaVine), the Utah Jazz (led for now by All-Star Donovan Mitchell), and the Washington Wizards (led by 2021 All-NBA performer Bradley Beal, who is also looking to bounce back from an injury-shortened season like George).
NBA small forward team rankings
|BOS: Jayson Tatum (#1)||BRK: Kevin Durant (#4)||NY: RJ Barrett (#19)||PHI: PJ Tucker (#26)||TOR: OG Anunoby (#20)|
|CHI: DeMar DeRozan (#5)||CLE: Lauri Markkanen (#25)||DET: Saddiq Bey (#22)||IND: Bennedict Mathurin (#30)||MIL: Khris Middleton (#7)|
|ATL: De’Andre Hunter (#27)||CHA: Gordon Hayward (#13)||MIA: Jimmy Butler (#6)||ORL: Franz Wagner (#21)||WAS: Will Barton (#18)|
|DEN: Michael Porter Jr. (#23)||MIN: Jaden McDaniels (#28)||OKC: Luguentz Dort (#24)||POR: Josh Hart (#11)||UTA: Bojan Bogdanovic (#17)|
|GS: Andrew Wiggins (#8)||LAC: Kawhi Leonard (#2)||LAL: LeBron James (#3)||PHO: Mikal Bridges (#10)||SAC: Harrison Barnes (#14)|
|DAL: Reggie Bullock (#29)||HOU: Jae’Sean Tate (#16)||MEM: Dillon Brooks (#15)||NO: Brandon Ingram (#9)||SA: Keldon Johnson (#12)|
Clippers ranking: Second
Clearly, the Clippers have the best wing talent and combination in the NBA. Getting Kawhi Leonard back to himself after surgery to repair a partially torn right ACL in July 2021 is a major part of it. Leonard was the only small forward to be on the All-NBA First Team in 2021, and he also was on the All-Defensive team. The top spot at small forward is held currently by the Boston Celtics, led by Jayson Tatum, the only player at the position to make this past sesaon’s All-NBA First Team.
Similar to shooting guard, LA’s depth is supreme at small forward to hedge Leonard’s likely absences in the upcoming season. Options like Norman Powell, Terance Mann and Luke Kennard ensure that the Clippers will always have strong wing play with Leonard on or off the floor. Leonard is the type of player who could address all of the woes the Clippers had in 2021-22: generating free throws, rebounding at a high level and scoring droughts.
Rounding out the top five at the NBA’s most important position are the Los Angeles Lakers (led by 2022 All-NBA Third Team selection LeBron James), the Brooklyn Nets (led, for now, by the disgruntled Kevin Durant) and the Bulls (led by the NBA’s leading 2-point scorer, DeMar DeRozan).
NBA power forward team rankings
|BOS: Al Horford (#16)||BRK: Ben Simmons (#5)||NY: Julius Randle (#6)||PHI: Tobias Harris (#15)||TOR: Scottie Barnes (#14)|
|CHI: Patrick Williams (#29)||CLE: Evan Mobley (#11)||DET: Marvin Bagley III (#30)||IND: Oshae Brissett (#28)||MIL: Giannis Antetokounmpo (#1)|
|ATL: John Collins (#12)||CHA: PJ Washington (#23)||MIA: Caleb Martin (#27)||ORL: Paolo Banchero (#13)||WAS: Kyle Kuzma (#9)|
|DEN: Aaron Gordon (#10)||MIN: Karl-Anthony Towns (#2)||OKC: Darius Bazley (#22)||POR: Jerami Grant (#8)||UTA: Jarred Vanderbilt (#25)|
|GS: Draymond Green (#4)||LAC: Marcus Morris Sr. (#20)||LAL: Anthony Davis (#3)||PHO: Jae Crowder (#26)||SAC: Keegan Murray (#21)|
|DAL: Dorian Finney-Smith (#19)||HOU: Jabari Smith Jr. (#17)||MEM: Brandon Clarke (#18)||NO: Zion Williamson (#7)||SA: Doug McDermott (#24)|
Clippers ranking: 20th
Marcus Morris Sr. leads the way at power forward for the Clippers, who also have Robert Covington, Nicolas Batum and Amir Coffey as reserves. Morris has always been the starter here for LA; the only exception coming when Batum started in Morris’ place to begin the 2020-21 season while Morris recovered from knee soreness. Even then, Morris encouraged Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue to stay with Batum upon Morris’ return to action. Lue waited shortly after the All-Star break to re-insert Morris into the starting lineup.
I have the Clippers 20th at the position, mainly because there are more dynamic players that make up the top 15. Morris is a strong shooter and can get his shot off in the midrange to bolster a healthy scoring average. But Morris is on the smaller side at power forward, which shows up in the paint and on the glass, and his athleticism also is on the lower end relative to the rest of the league. Covington is better and more active defensively, and his shooting was outstanding in LA. (Covington is prone to cold snaps, but that wasn’t the case after leaving Portland.)
The teams ranked just above the Clippers are the Celtics (with an effective-but-aging Al Horford), the Houston Rockets (Jabari Smith Jr. was the consensus top pick, until he wasn’t on draft day), the Memphis Grizzlies (Brandon Clarke is a top backup but will have to begin the season as a starter while Jaren Jackson Jr. recovers from foot surgery) and the Dallas Mavericks (Dorian Finney-Smith is a trusted 3-and-D power forward and is now backed up by a top scorer and rebounder in Christian Wood).
NBA center team rankings
|BOS: Robert Williams (#9)||BRK: Nic Claxton (#28)||NY: Mitchell Robinson (#24)||PHI: Joel Embiid (#2)||TOR: Pascal Siakam (#4)|
|CHI: Nikola Vucevic (#7)||CLE: Jarrett Allen (#5)||DET: Isaiah Stewart (#22)||IND: Myles Turner (#20)||MIL: Brook Lopez (#10)|
|ATL: Clint Capela (#21)||CHA: Mason Plumlee (#29)||MIA: Bam Adebayo (#8)||ORL: Wendell Carter Jr. (#16)||WAS: Kristaps Porzingis (#12)|
|DEN: Nikola Jokic (#1)||MIN: Rudy Gobert (#3)||OKC: Chet Holmgren (#15)||POR: Jusuf Nurkic (#17)||UTA: Udoka Azubuike (#30)|
|GS: Kevon Looney (#27)||LAC: Ivica Zubac (#18)||LAL: Thomas Bryant (#26)||PHO: Deandre Ayton (#14)||SAC: Domantas Sabonis (#6)|
|DAL: JaVale McGee (#25)||HOU: Alperen Sengun (#23)||MEM: Steven Adams (#19)||NO: Jonas Valanciunas (#13)||SA: Jakob Poeltl (#11)|
Clippers ranking: 18th
This is considered the most replaceable position in the league. For the Clippers, they have their durable, reliable, newly extended veteran in Ivica Zubac as a starter. When Zubac is out the game, he is more likely to be relieved by two of Morris, Covington, Batum and Coffey playing together than current training-camp invitee Moses Brown or second-round, two-way contract rookie Moussa Diabaté. In the postseason, Lue is likely pulling Zubac when the series suggests.
Zubac is not a dynamic option in any way. He’s not there to throw passes like MVP Nikola Jokić, put defenders on skates like Philadelphia 76ers star Joel Embiid or dominate the rim on either end of the floor like new Timberwolves center Rudy Gobert. Zubac does not have 3-point range or plus athleticism, but he shows up every week, plays up to his elite size and strength and works hard in his 24 minutes. He’s almost as average a center as you could ask for, but also with a high floor for the position.
The other teams in LA’s range at center include the Orlando Magic (led by Wendell Carter Jr., who is sliding over to make room for 2022 top pick Paolo Banchero), the Portland Trail Blazers (led by the heaviest player in the league, Jusuf Nurkić), the Grizzlies (led by top offensive rebounder Steven Adams) and the Indiana Pacers led by Myles Turner.