Clippers trade for Jakob Poeltl: Would the Clippers do it?
Ivica Zubac absolutely beasted Myles Turner and the Indiana Pacers a few weeks back, putting up 30 points and 29 rebounds in a truly impressive performance. The potential issue for the Clippers is letting that one game overshadow the reality of this season for the Clips: they are 11.6 points per 100 possessions better when Zubac is on the bench than when he plays, per Cleaning the Glass.
The Clippers have been at their best, this season and for a while now, deploying small-ball options at center. Yet playing Robert Covington, Marcus Morris or even Nic Batum at center has drawbacks, namely rim protection. Adding a legitimate shot-blocker who can give them another look and potentially a dangerous one.
Jakob Poeltl is playing on the league’s worst defense and he still has a positive Defensive EPM (Estimated Plus-Minus). Zubac has a break-even overall EPM for the season playing on the West’s sixth seed; Poeltl is +1.6, 13th among all centers playing for a tanking Spurs team. He is elevating a bad team; Zubac is simply average for a good one.
Poeltl has never had a 30-29 game, but he is a great rebounder, excellent roll man and finisher, and he has underrated foot speed on defense. He would be an instant upgrade and could potentially close games when facing the league’s biggest centers like Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis, and Joel Embiid.
Verdict: Make the trade!