LA Clippers: How does this year’s roster compare to the 2020-2021 team?

Brandon Boston Jr., LA Clippers. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Brandon Boston Jr., LA Clippers. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

This LA Clippers team is going to be special.

Coming off of the greatest season in Clipper history, there are a lot of similarities between what this year’s roster is going to be with what it was last year.

For starters, the two players we finished the season playing without in Kawhi Leonard and Serge Ibaka, are not going to be here right away. Ibaka will likely be back soon, however Kawhi Leonard may be out until March.

What is considered adversity to the LA Clippers isn’t actually unfamiliar.

The LA Clippers have been here before. They made the Western Conference Finals last year without Leonard and Ibaka, and are now projected to have a disappointing season despite them already having experience in dealing with this adversity.

It’s why the Clippers are built to surprise this year. They’ve already experienced being short-handed like this.

As for some differences, Eric Bledsoe has now returned to the fold in place of other point guards in Patrick Beverley and Rajon Rondo. That’s a big change for this franchise.

Beverley was a huge culture-setter for the Clippers, and had an important role on defense where he would pick up opposing ballhandlers full-court. He was aggressive, and he was a pest to the opposition. Now, the Clips will look to other high-energy guys like Terance Mann to bring that level of intensity and hopefully some ball pressure.

It’s worth pointing out, however, that Bledsoe has some history as a great defensive player too. He’s made multiple All-Defensive teams himself, and was an impactful player in general the last time he was primarily a point guard.

Bledsoe played the two-guard primarily last year in New Orleans, and he didn’t have that defensive presence. Now that he’ll be most likely taking more game reps at the one, he’ll be able to guard the ballhandler more often, which is what he excels at.

Offensively, it’s a similar story. Bledsoe was admittedly disappointing last year as a two-guard, but now that he has the chance to start at the point rather than the two (due to Reggie Jackson being good enough at both guard spots to switch over to the shooting guard), Bledsoe can rekindle that magic on offense. In the last two seasons Bledsoe played point guard, he averaged 15.5 points per game, 5.5 assists per game, 4.6 rebounds per game, and shot 48% from the field.

He’s a terrific finisher and he’s very athletic. They call him ‘Mini-LeBron’ for a reason. It’s tough to lose Beverley, but the hope is that Bledsoe fits this team well.

We at least know that Bledsoe will be better than Rondo.

Daniel Oturu was also involved in that trade, and so our third center is going to be Isaiah Hartenstein this time around, instead of going with Oturu and DeMarcus Cousins.

Last year’s roster was absolutely loaded when it came to long wings that could play at least two positions. We just added three more of those for this year.

Keon Johnson was our first round draft pick, and he fittingly models his game off of Kawhi Leonard’s. Being able to have him learn under Leonard’s wing is going to be massive. He’s a projected impact player as a two-way guy who can create a lot of fast break opportunities with his defense and quickness.

We also brought Kentucky’s Brandon Boston Jr. back to Southern California, and he balled in the preseason. He’s explosive, athletic, and is already mature as a ballhandler in his shot creation.

In free agency, we added Justise Winslow, a former top ten pick who’s shown potential in this league when healthy. He unfortunately has had an issue with that durability, but he’s shown flashes of explosiveness when he’s on the court, and versatility in his ability to play both guard and both forward positions.

He’s shown flashes on the defensive end too, and he hopes to make a big stride in his development now that he’s with an elite coach in Ty Lue.

Missing is Jason Preston, who the Clippers drafted to give them some depth at point guard. He’s injured right now, but will have the chance to have a serious impact on the Clipper bench when he comes back. There’s no timetable on his foot injury right now, but he’s expected to be out for a significant period of time.

The roster’s a bit different this year, but most of the core pieces are still here. Many of the new faces will surely be for the better. Even the moves that some fans weren’t ecstatic about (the Beverley-Bledsoe trade) can still work out well due to the trust we should have in Ty Lue.

Next. Examining projected depth chart. dark

This team is going to be excellent again this year.