2019 Clippers Favored to Win First-Ever NBA Championship
2019 Los Angeles Clippers Betting Storylines
I have a bone to pick with the Los Angeles Clippers. I'm a Canadian, so it's no mystery what it is - they stole Kawhi Leonard from his rightful home north of the border. He the North - or at least he should be. But, alas, the Clippers landed that massive prize and so much more, and in the process went from a plucky upstart that surprised some by making the playoffs last year to the clear and obvious favorites to win it all this year. It's a dramatic turnaround - a process that went so perfectly, and so quickly, that it makes Philadelphia's look truly glacial.
Expectations are sky high, and the ceiling is very high. But it's all just on paper for now, and the list of teams that have looked great on paper but haven't come through in the end is not short. Heck, the Clippers alone have had three such teams in the last decade. So, is this year going to be different? Is Kawhi really magic?
We'll talk about the additions and changes in a moment, and they are obviously significant. But it is worth mentioning that the new guys aren't running into a team with little to work with. This isn't like LeBron going to the Lakers. Lou Williams won Sixth Man of the Year last year. Montrezl Harrell probably would have won it if he didn't. Patrick Beverley isn't a great offensive point guard, but he is very good defensively - which will obviously be a fit here. Landry Shamet showed enough as a rookie after being acquired midseason last year to make it easy to believe that his future is bright. JaMychal Green is a forward who can play two positions well and is versatile. And Ivica Zubac is a more prototypical big who is young and has room to grow - as a player, not physically. The team took a pretty solid core and bolted on two megastars. This is not the Lakers model.
2019 Los Angeles Clippers Additions and Departures
I'm not sure if you heard, but Kawhi Leonard plays for the Clippers now. It's news that flew under the radar. He elevated himself into the highest level of megastar status by being the leading force in Toronto's impressive title run last year. He was the biggest prize of the offseason - which is saying something given a couple of other guys who shifted zip codes this summer. And he played the Clippers like a fiddle to get what he wanted. At first glance, the team paid a massive price to land Paul George. And they certainly did - five first-rounders, two more first-round swaps, and two solid starters. But when you can get a guy in his prime who is coming off a season in which he scored 28 points and yet his best traits are defensive, and you can pair him with the best two-way player in the league, and making this trade is the only reason you got Leonard, suddenly that price seems just fine. If things go as they are supposed to, then those picks won't be anything to write home about, and they'll have a title or two instead.
You can never be sure of how two stars will play together. Not until you see it happen. But these guys are both so defensively sound, yet so offensively gifted, and they are relatively egoless on the court - at least compared to some stars in the league. Nothing is certain, but I'd bet more on this one working out than some. Most.
Those two additions are obviously the big ones. But that's not all the team did. They got involved in the four-way deal that saw Jimmy Butler move to Miami and wound up with Maurice Harkless - and one of the first-round picks they sent to Oklahoma City - for their efforts. Harkless is a useful enough player - though he hasn't been as sharp the last couple of years. He's in the last year of a contract that pays him $11 million, though, so if he doesn't prove indispensable, then his deal will be very tradeable later on.
They did not have a first-round pick this year in the draft - getting an early start on that - but they did have two picks. One of those was swapped with the Nets.
2019 Los Angeles Clippers Futures Odds and Trends
Los Angeles Clippers Futures Odds
NBA title odds : +350
Western Conference title odds : +225
Kawhi Leonard MVP Odds : +1000
Paul George MVP Odds : +2500
Season win total: 53.5
Will the Los Angeles Clippers make the playoffs: Yes -1500, No +1000
Not that last year is really relevant given the changes, but last year the Clippers were a very solid 45-36-1 ATS, which was tied for third best in the league. Expectations from public bettors are much, much higher this year. Therefore, if they were able to replicate that kind of betting success, it would really be remarkable. They went over the total 45 times and under 36, which made them the fourth best team to bet on the over.
2019 Los Angeles Clippers Predictions and Futures Odds Picks
I'm buying what they are selling. They combined two very good players with a strong supporting cast, the key pieces chose to be here, and they are well coached. The West is very tough, but the Clippers are deserving favorites - and my choice to win the conference and beyond.
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