Ranking 3 first-round matchups for the LA Clippers from least to most dangerous

Can the Clippers handle the Suns in the first round?
Can the Clippers handle the Suns in the first round? / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages
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There’s no such thing as a free lunch. Remember that when you’re looking at the NBA’s Western Conference standings. The West is a gauntlet, and nothing is promised. 

The Los Angeles Clippers boast one of the most well-constructed rosters in the league. Most of their players can shoot; most of their players can defend. Yet, there’s no assurance that they’ll escape the first round. 

After all, the competition is fierce. The Clippers will thoroughly prepare for whoever their first-round opponent may be. Here are three potential matchups ranked from the least to most threatening to the squad. 

3. Sacramento Kings

Simple logic should dictate that the Clippers will get through the Kings - they’re better on both ends. The Clippers have the NBA’s fourth highest Offensive Rating (ORtg) at 119.0. They’ve got the league’s 14th-highest Defensive Rating (DRtg) at 114.5. The Kings are 12th (116.8) and 20th (116.5) in both of those categories. 

They also happen to be a good matchup for the Clippers. Domantas Sabonis is a talented, dynamic playmaker, but he can be solved. The Clippers could try to overwhelm him with physicality by giving Ivica Zubac heavy minutes. On the other hand, they could try to run him off the floor by relying on Daniel Theis and/or P.J. Tucker at the 5 for some small-ball spells. 

It also helps that the Kings are a system-heavy team, and the Clippers are system-beaters. The Kings lead the NBA in Dribble Hand-Off (DHO) frequency at 10.3%. How else do you bust up a DHO but by running the platoon of rangy wing defenders that the Clippers have at their disposal?