LA Clippers’ depth is far superior to the Los Angeles Lakers

LA Clippers (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
LA Clippers (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The LA Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers both look to be championship contenders, but the Clips have one huge advantage: their depth.

In a recent article by our friends over at LA Sports Hub, it was posited that the Los Angeles Lakers have three distinct advantages over the LA Clippers. Those advantages per the article are:

  1. Better superstars
  2. The Lakers are more reliable (injury wise)
  3. The Lakers have better depth

Honestly, I could sit here and argue every single point they made is wrong. I won’t. Instead I’m going to focus on the third point which happens to be the most incorrect statement I’ve seen online today.

For starters, let’s just list out the current players on each roster. The starting groups can obviously change between now and the start of the season.

The Lakers

The Clippers

So, there we have it.

For the sake of this depth argument, I’m going to ignore the four superstars. The difference between the duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis compared to Kawhi Leonard and Paul George is negligible when it comes to overall team depth.

Name Recognition Doesn’t Equate to Being Good

I’ll give the casual fans one thing. The Lakers have much more recognizable names. People know who Rondo, Howard, Bradley and even McGee are. Maybe that’s why they’re making these irrational arguments. But when is the last time any of them were high-quality NBA players?

Rondo was okay last season, I guess. McGee can still catch lobs and get blocks when he’s not being a bonehead. I don’t have to tell Clippers fans what Avery Bradley is (in)capable of. Dwight Howard was struggling to find a home up until a few weeks ago.

For the Clippers, only Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell really have any clout for the casual NBA fan. Both finished top three last season in Sixth Man of the Year voting (with Lou winning) so it makes sense that people would know about them. That doesn’t mean other players on the team are bad though.

JaMychal Green added 8.7 points per game off the bench last season, shooting a great 41.3% from deep on 3.3 attempts per game. In the series versus the Warriors, he was even better, scoring 11 points on 52.2% from deep. It’s very possible he’s inserted into the starting lineup this year and with all the attention Leonard and George will pull, he will have tons of chances to knock down open shots.

Fans probably don’t know about Landry Shamet either. I mean, all he did was join Steph Curry as the only rookies to ever shoot over 42% from deep and to make over 160 three-pointers. He also made All-Rookie Second Team and was invited by Team USA to play for the Select Team.

I can sit here and give you bios on every player for the Clippers and what they have done recently (which is a key word when comparing the Clips’ depth to the Lakers). I won’t write them all here, but make sure you check out what we’ve already said about Beverley and Harkless. Let’s instead look at some numbers.


I get that depth isn’t ONLY about the bench. But yet, it kind of is? Without this piece getting to thousands and thousands of words, I’ve opted to keep it simple.

What we have below is a player comparison of each team’s top three bench guys and their stats from last season. For the Lakers, that means we used Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Quinn Cook and Kyle Kuzma. For the Clippers, we have Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell and JaMychal Green.

We’ll start with something super basic – points per game.

  • Lou Williams: 20.0 ppg
  • Montrezl Harrell: 16.6 ppg
  • JaMychal Green: 9.4 ppg
  • Kyle Kuzma: 18.7 ppg
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: 11.4 ppg
  • Quinn Cook: 6.9 ppg

If you do the simple math, the Clippers’ trio averaged 15.33 points and the Lakers’ averaged 12.33. Advantage Clippers.

That’s as basic of a stat as possible though. Obviously so much more goes into a game other than just scoring. Thankfully, we have advanced analytics for that. Looking at Offensive Rating and Defensive Rating, we can also see that the Clips’ top three guys were better. Remember, for Offensive Rating you want the higher amount (estimate of points produced) and for Defensive Rating you want the lower amount (estimate of points allowed).

  • Lou Williams: 112 ORtg / 114 DRtg
  • Montrezl Harrell: 122 ORtg / 109 DRtg
  • JaMychal Green: 108 ORtg / 107 DRtg
  • Kyle Kuzma: 106 ORtg / 112 DRtg
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: 113 ORtg / 112 DRtg
  • Quinn Cook: 110 ORtg / 113 DRtg

Clippers’ averages: 114 ORtg / 110 DRtg

Lakers’ averages: 109.67 ORtg / 112.33 DRtg

Finally, we’ll look at the players’ Box Plus/Minus. This stat estimates the number of points per 100 possessions that a player contributed above a league average-player, translated to a league-average team. In short, this stat is one of the better stats to see how good a player is overall.

  • Lou Williams: 0.4 BPM
  • Montrezl Harrell: 4.2 BPM
  • JaMychal Green: -1.5 BPM
  • Kyle Kuzma: -1.7 BPM
  • Kentavious Caldwell-Pope: -0.6 BPM
  • Quinn Cook: -2.9 BPM

Do I really need to do averages when all the Lakers have negative BPMs? I think not.

No, analytics don’t ever pain the whole picture, especially when it’s only for six players out of two rosters. This should give you a rough idea though. Now, for my eye test people.

Eye Test

Prior to starting this article, I summarized my feelings in a mini-twitter rant. The final point?

For this tweet, all I did was remove the two superstar duos for each team and then list out their top five players. It really is that simple.

As a user pointed out, it doesn’t even stop with those ten. The Clippers would also have Landry Shamet, Ivica Zubac and Rodeny McGruder in their rotation. Meanwhile, the Lakers would have Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Avery Bradley and JaVale McGee as their rotation players.

Perhaps this tweet was better done as a poll and the responses we are receiving at Clipperholics are obviously biased ones from Clipper Nation, but go ask this to any NBA fan. I’d be willing to bet quite a lot that the majority of them would take Team 1, especially in a playoff series.

dark. Next. Three Things Joakim Noah Would Bring to the Clippers

Let’s stop pretending the Lakers are this super deep monster. They are a championship contender with two of the top ten superstars in the league and figure to make a lot of noise despite having a weak supporting cast. That’s it. The Clippers, while still far from perfect, have a lot less concerns with their roster as a whole.