The LA Clippers should mimic the Lakers’ strategy with Russell Westbrook

Luke Kennard, Tyronn Lue, LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Luke Kennard, Tyronn Lue, LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

With one of the best starting rotations in the NBA, the LA Clippers’ bench holds a few minor flaws that opposing teams could expose later in the season. Regardless of which point guard is deemed the starter, head coach Tyronn Lue will need to be sure his bench lineup can hold it down when the stars need a breather.

A decision that many Clippers fans may have mixed opinions on is benching the two-way stud Norman Powell. Similarly, the Los Angeles Lakers decided to bench their athletic, play-making point guard Russell Westbrook. While the reasons for Westbrook being benched may be different, the concept of providing a spark remains the same.

Furthermore, Powell is one of the few players on the current roster who can dominate no matter who he plays with. Whether that’s in the starting lineup with superstars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George or off the bench with Terance Mann and Luke Kennard, his contributions come with extreme versatility.

Right now, the best fit for Powell will be off the bench. However, this new role does not mean he will receive a small amount of playing time with the starting rotation. Especially in late-game situations, it is almost guaranteed that Lue will have Powell, Leonard, and George sharing the court simultaneously. In addition, the LA Clippers are known to have some of the league’s best sixth men.

Former Clipper legends Lou Williams, Montrezl Harrell, and Jamal Crawford all won the sixth man of the year awards in their time with the organization. Powell will likely be in the discussion if Lue assigns him to the bench rotation.

The LA Clippers will have no problems winning the NBA Finals if Norman Powell wins the sixth man of the year.

Norman Powell coming off the bench would be scary for the LA Clippers. This decision could lead Powell to not only a sixth man of the year award but also one of the best statistical seasons of his veteran career. He would be free to take his desired shots and find open teammates around the perimeter.

Moreover, outside of the point guard position in the bench rotation (Reggie Jackson or John Wall), the secondary lineup lacks an efficient shot-creator. While Kennard may be able to fill that role, he is best utilized in catch-and-shoot scenarios. Surrounding a ball handler like Powell with elite three-point shooting off the bench will elevate the LA Clippers’ ceiling in several ways.

Let’s not forget the bench will also consist of players like Amir Coffey, Robert Covington, and Nicolas Batum. Although adjustments will be made later in the season, having players who can make an impact on both ends will instantly boost Powell’s production off the bench.

When evaluating some of the NBA’s best teams, they all have a player who carries the load off through the secondary. Additionally, Powell would not have the ball in his hands often if he were to be called into the starting lineup. He would likely be given the catch-and-shoot duties to start the season. This role would hold Powell back from his full potential as he is capable of much more.

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The LA Clippers’ best chance at winning their first-ever NBA championship will be to have Powell come off the bench. Opposing teams would lose track of how to stop Lue’s rotations if another high-volume scorer embraced the role as a sixth man. It makes perfect sense to have Powell provide his contributions where needed, as the LA Clippers are looking to make history.