To say that the Los Angeles Clippers are a massive disappointment is an understatement. After acquiring Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on top of an already stacked roster, it became title or bust. News flash, they’ve apparently chosen bust. After failing to make it out of the second round of the 2020 playoffs courtesy of a 3-1 comeback by the Denver Nuggets, the Clippers are choking again. Thanks in part to “Baby Bird” Luka Dončić, the Clippers might not even make it out of the first round.
In just eight total playoff games, all of them against the Clippers, Luka has dominated.
Luka Doncic first 8 playoff games:— StatMuse (@statmuse) May 26, 2021
He is averaging 32/10/9 on 50% shooting. pic.twitter.com/dZj7YeAtz0
Though the Clippers got the best of Luka and the Mavs in 2020, they currently sit down 2-0. To make matters even worse, both of their losses came at home. Now headed to Dallas, Kawhi and the Clippers are in desperation mode as they hope to avoid going down 3-0. But unfortunately for the bottom dwellers of the Staples Center, their problems seem unfixable. And given the unguardable offense of Luka and the Mavs, I predict a series sweep and a horrible night’s sleep for Skip Bayless.
I WAS SO WRONG ABOUT THE CLIPPERS. Now they’re going to get swept.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) May 26, 2021
The Clippers Disaster
Before Paul George and Kawhi Leonard came to LA, the Clippers were described as a well-coached, scrappy team. In 2019, they demonstrated this by taking two games off the KD-led Warriors in the first round. You’d assume that replacing Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with two MVP-level players would only improve the team. After all, they already had Lou Williams, Patrick Beverly, and Montrezl Harrell. But for whatever reason, the Clippers haven’t been able to put it all together when they needed to most.
After blowing a 3-1 lead to the Nuggets, the Clippers fired Doc Rivers, lost Harrell in free agency, traded away Lou Williams and Landry Shamet, and made multiple other roster moves. At the conclusion of the regular season, the Clippers were fourth in the west, statistically the best 3pt shooting team, but were among the worst in clutch-time situations. Something that has clearly caught up to them.
If the Clippers lose this series, and I believe they will, they’ll have won only one playoff series with Kawhi and Paul George. Not to mention, Kawhi has an opt-out clause that he could elect to use at the end of the season. To make matters even worse for the Clippers, currently, they don’t have a first-round pick until 2027. So if both Paul George and Kawhi decide to leave, the Clippers are virtually screwed for the foreseeable future.
The Makings Of An All-Time Great
Rings aside, what we are currently watching is the making of a top 20 player of all time.
When Luka Dončić first entered the league, it was clear we were witnessing a special talent. He ended his rookie season averaging over 20 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. In Luka’s sophomore season, he averaged 29 points, nine assists, and nine rebounds. At just 22 years old in his junior season, Luka ended the regular season averaging 28 points, nine assists, and eight rebounds. Not only is Luka consistent, but he’s also only getting better.
There’s a great chance that he or MVP front-runner Nikola Jokić will one day become the third player in NBA history to average a triple-double for a season.
Coming into the 2020 season, Luka was favored to win the MVP. Unfortunately, not only was “Baby Bird” out of shape, but the Mavs struggled because of it. A lesson learned the hard way and one that Luka surely won’t make again. It took some time, but once the Mavs were clicking on all cylinders, it was obvious why Luka was favored to win the award.
It’s fair to criticize Luka Dončić for how often he complains to refs. It’s in-bounds to knock him for his LeBron-esque free throw shooting. You could even remove the “D” in Dončić because he plays little to no defense. But it’s undeniable how naturally gifted the Mavs star truly is. Given the current trajectory of his career, Luka will be one of the greatest players to step foot in the NBA.