After 14 regular-season games this season, the LA Clippers have exceeded or met some expectations from the basketball experts or the media. At the same time, there have been some players for the Clippers that have been exceeding the expectations set from preseason evaluation.
These are players that have been playing at a high level of performance in their role. This season’s Clippers appears to be much more focused in the first year of head coach Ty Lue. There has been more focus and analysis of the dynamics and chemistry of the team than last year, as they failed to meet their goals in the previous NBA Playoffs.
This season, the Clippers are playing with multiple players excelling in their distinctive roles and using more effective chemistry to maintain their winning ways on the court. Only their rivals in the Los Angeles Lakers (11-4) have a better record currently than the Clippers.
That is not stopping some of the news media from putting the Clippers below the Lakers in the NBA Power Rankings. Other outlets putting the Clippers below the Milwaukee Bucks and even the Brooklyn Nets, due to the new addition of shooting guard James Harden in a trade from the Houston Rockets.
The expectations of the Clippers are lower than the Lakers, Bucks, and the Nets now. The LA Clippers are playing like one of the top teams in the NBA but the players that are helping them exceed at a high-level is the surprising aspect to individuals outside and inside Clipper Nation.
LA Clippers Players Exceeding Expectations: Serge Ibaka
Before the 2020-2021 NBA season started, the Clippers signing 31-year-old power forward/center Serge Ibaka was one of the underrated free-agent signings in the offseason. Ibaka was signed to take over the paint impact left by Montrezl Harrell, who left for the Lakers.
Clippers fans originally thought Serge would be stepping in to be the backup center for the Clippers, like he was consistently for the Toronto Raptors for the past two seasons. However, Ibaka became a game one starter for Los Angeles at the center position. From game one, he was one of the most productive players in the paint on the offensive and defensive end of the court.
In 13 games this season, Ibaka is averaging 11.8 points per game, 6.2 rebounds per game, and 1.2 blocks per game. He’s shooting a field-goal percentage of 51.6% and a three-point shooting percentage of 34.2%, which is sufficient for a starting center in the NBA.
He has accumulated 10 games with at least 10 points; he has also had for four games where he accounted for two blocks in a game. His best performance was against the Minnesota Timberwolves where he accounted for 16 points, eight rebounds, four assists, and two blocks.
There were big expectations for Ibaka going into the season as a key member of the Clippers. He was needed to contribute significantly in the paint through consistent scoring and playing tough defensive basketball in the paint. He gives the Clippers more flexibility on the offensive end of the court by creating his own shots. He has also been a great team player to his teammates, especially former Raptors teammate Kawhi Leonard.