Why the NBA In-Season Tournament is perfect for the LA Clippers

LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
LA Clippers - Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

After 53 seasons, maybe it is finally time that the LA Clippers dust their spider-web-filled, hollow trophy cabinet.

And this time around, the franchise’s first trophy doesn’t have to be the storied Larry O’Brien trophy — instead, it very much could be the newly-introduced NBA Cup.

The main reason behind the Clippers’ recent postseason shortcomings have been injuries: Kawhi Leonard in 2021, George in 2022 and both in the team’s most recent playoff endeavor. Sure, they did suffer injuries throughout each of their four seasons in LA. But most of them did come at the very end — when competition heats up and stakes are high.

As such, a mid-season tournament, the NBA Cup provides the Clippers with an added opportunity to finally hoist a trophy.

With the addition of this tournament, the long-held notion of one singular goal and trophy all of sudden is split into two. And it doesn’t come at the cost of more games or drastically different conditions.

So, for a star-stacked team that couldn’t fight for a trophy in full strength the last three seasons, this could finally be the competition to see how good of a team they are. Considering the tournament will take place only a couple of months into the season, there is a good chance that Clippers fans will finally see a healthy trio of Leonard, George and Russell Westbrook compete for hardware.

And there is good reason to expect good results from a healthy Clippers team. The team does boast the makings of a championship team: multiple generational superstars, a championship-proven coach and a deep roster with plentiful scoring and defending. Not to mention, the Clippers are 83-35 when both Leonard and George play.

But even in the case that they don’t win it all, this tournament could still benefit the Clippers.

The In-Season Tournament benefits the LA Clippers one way or another.

These games will provide an early assessment of how well the LA Clippers can perform under pressure, when more than just a regular season record is on the line. As part of the West B pool, the Clippers will be in direct competition with the reigning champions in the Denver Nuggets and a talented Dallas Mavericks team.

Moreover, it will be a good diagnosis-turned-forecast of the team’s future. If the Kawhi and George-led Clippers can’t execute in two different tournaments, maybe there is more than enough reason to blow things up and invest in the organization’s future. If they can bring home a championship in either tournament, well, that’s more than enough reason to retain the superstar core.

And we of course can’t forget the new excitement an initiative this brings to the Clippers’ fan base: it’s like a special promotion from the NBA — a real two-in-one, if you will.

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All in all, if any team can benefit from the NBA Cup, it’s most definitely the LA Clippers.