It's all about Rui in Clippers Land this season.
Another off-season, another roster makeover from the Los Angeles Clippers. GM Dylan made a promise that he wouldn't stop the moves until he had a core/roster in place that he felt was championship-worthy, and he seems to be holding himself to that. After sending out a lot of the roster, including Dzanan Musa who had figured to be a part of the future, a lot of uncertainty and questions surround the Clippers this upcoming season.
To begin analyzing what the Clippers have done and their prospects for this upcoming season, let's first look at who exactly went and who was brought in.
Out:Jordan Adams, Clint Capela, Tacko Fall, Damien Inglis, Ogjnen Jaramaz, Dzanan Musa, Tyrone Wallace
In: Rui Hachimura, Jrue Holiday, Demetrius Jackson, Luke Kennard, Kevon Looney, Brandon McCoy, Jerome Robinson, Dion Waiters
A lot of movement here, so let's do some quick takeaways. Moving on from Adams, Capela and Inglis is getting out of some long term contracts who were never going to put the Clippers overboard, and swapping them out for guys on expiring or 1+1 contracts like Holiday, Looney and Waiters. The goal is here theoretically to flip the veterans for some sort of future assets, and potentially even keep Looney around long-term given he's just 24.
Next, the Clippers brought in Luke Kennard and Brandon McCoy in the same deal, letting go of the previous year's 3rd overall pick Dzanan Musa. Some hated it and some loved it, but the Clippers feel good about the decision they made. Musa is young and talented but has key weaknesses in two main spots of importance: defense and shooting. Musa may put up some numbers, and if he's going to workout anywhere it very well may be Sacramento, but the Clippers felt long-term Musa wouldn't have been a piece that fit easily and contributed to a title. Meanwhile, Luke Kennard was the main prize, as a very good outside shooter who can hold his own defensively. They feel with the switch to DDS:PB19, that's the type of player who will be coveted and greatly increase in value. Additionally, Brandon McCoy is a solid young big who can play a potential 3rd big role, and acquired 4 second-round picks.
Last, and most importantly, the draft. The Clippers held the fourth overall pick in a draft that had three elite players but still found themselves a potential huge difference-maker. Rui Hachimura is a versatile wing/big defender with the potential to be one of the very best defenders the CSL has ever seen. With a solid first training camp (+41 total), Hachimura looks to already be a very good defender (79 def, 73 stl, 68 blk), with still plenty of room to grow. He has significant limitations offensively, but the defensive versatility he possesses, he could potentially matchup anywhere from 2-5 and be a real difference-maker. Additionally, the Clippers traded in and drafted guard Jerome Robinson in the mid-second round, who has a solid outside shot and could potentially see time as a bench shooter.
The season outlook for the Clippers isn't pretty but is once again by design. Owning their own first-round pick this year, the Clippers season is all about being in a good position to draft whatever potential difference-maker in the upper lottery. There will still be a lot to take away from this season though, including the moving of veterans for future assets, as well as the development of Hachimura, Kennard, McCoy, Robinson, and others.
Potential Starting Lineup: Austin Rivers, Dion Waiters, Luke Kennard, Rui Hachimura, Kevon Looney
Predicted Record: 20-62