Unfortunately, the Clippers’ 2020 season ended in disappoint. The team gave up a 3-1 series lead to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Semi-Finals. A plethora of factors played into the unfortunate end to the Clippers season including questionable coaching decisions, inadequate play from role players, and an inexcusable Game 7 performance from both Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. However, we’re not here to pinpoint what exactly went wrong. Instead we look to the future. What pieces could the Clipper potentially add in the offseason to compete for the championship next season?
Clippers Depth Chart
The Clippers have the best wing duo in the league on lock for at least one more season, as well as a decent amount of depth behind them. Every other position however is in for a few decisions this offseason. It’s possible the Clippers resign players like Marcus Morris and Montrezl Harrell, but for the sake of this article we are taking the depth chart for what it is without the current free agents included.
Clippers’ 2020 free agents this season include: Reggie Jackson (PG, unrestricted), Marcus Morris (PF, unrestricted), Patrick Patterson (PF, unrestricted), Johnathan Motley (PF, Restricted), Montrezl Harrell (C, unrestricted).
The Clippers’ current depth chart is as follows:
|Pos||First Team||Second Team||Third Team|
|PG||Patrick Beverley||Terance Mann|
|SG||Paul George||Lou Williams||Amir Coffee|
|SF||Kawhi Leonard||Landry Shamet||Rodney McGruder|
|PF||JaMychal Green (P/O)|
|C||Ivica Zubac||Joakim Noah||Mfiondu Kabengele|
The shooting guard position is one of the most secure situations on the Clippers’ roster right now. Guys like George, Lou Will, Shamet, Mann, or even Beverley can all play the 2 spot. This means any guards signed in the offseason should possess a decent amount of versatility, allowing them to play alongside smaller guys like Lou Will or longer guys like George or Shamet.
Top Ten Free Agent Shooting Guards to Target
Keep in mind, this list is based solely on shooting guards that are set to be free agents. Any sort of trade or sign-and-trade speculation will be considered in a different article (cough cough Jrue Holiday). These players are simply those on the market to be signed this summer.
Other Notable Free Agent Shooting Guards
#10 Rodney Hood (Player Option)
Hood has been a tremendous addition to the Trail Blazers during his first (almost) full season with the Blazers. After being traded to Portland during 2018-19, Hood shot 50.6% and 49.3% from the field and three-point line respectively during 2019-20. Both are career highs. In roughly 29.5 MPG, Hood averaged 11.0 PPG, 3.4 RPG, and 1.5 APG through the team’s first 21 games. Unfortunately, his season ended early due to a torn Achilles tendon.
Hood would land a few spots higher on this list if not for his severe injury. He’s developed into a great role player through his first six seasons in the league. Standing at 6’8, he’s a great option to play either wing position behind or alongside sing stars like George and Leonard. He possesses the size, length, and versatility to play alongside any combination of players, either off the bench or as a starter. Depending on his recovery status, Hood could be a great option to fill out the Clippers’ wing depth.
#9 Sterling Brown (Restricted FA)
Brown is a 6’5 combo wing player capable of guarding multiple positions. He averages only 5.2 PPG during his young, three-year career. However, he has been decently efficient, shooting 41.7% from the field with a career high of 46.5% in 2019. His true calling card however comes off the stat sheet. Brown is the kind of team defender and athlete that can help nearly any team he’s on. Players like Brown don’t require a perfect fit to contribute to a playoff team. He’s a great option to come off the bench and fill his role.
Playing alongside a playmaker like Lou Williams and shooters like Landry Shamet provides an optimal opportunity for Brown to become a legit 3 & D threat. He would not be asked to score consistently, only to space the court from the three-point line, where he shoots 34.5% on his career, and defend the best opposing bench guard. Brown is also an easy plug-and-play option for Rivers should any starters have to miss games for injury or other reasons.
#8 Bryn Forbes (Unrestricted FA)
The 5th year guard has been a staple in the Spurs’ starting five for the last two seasons since the departure of long time point guard, Tony Parker. Forbes surprised many when he came into the 2018-19 season shooting 42.6% from distance en route to playing all 82 games for San Antonio. He averaged 11.8 PPG, 2.9 RPG, and 2.1 APG on 45.6% shooting from the field. These are all great numbers for a rising role player.
Forbes does not land higher on this list because he’s only a 6’2 combo guard who relies mostly on his shooting to stay on the floor. These are fine traits for an NBA guard. In fact, they’re so common that the Clippers already have a guard very similar to this: Lou Williams. There are many similarities that can be found between the two players’ physical stature, causing potential issues when playing alongside each other. A longer, defensive minded guard might be a better compliment to the perineal 6th MOY contender.
#7 DeAndre’ Bembry (Restricted FA)
Bembry is a 6’5 wing player capable of guarding multiple positions. He lost his starting role to rising shooter, Kevin Huerter. This may mean the Hawks are looking to move on from the 25-year-old guard this off season. Bembry averaged only 5.8 points in 21.3 minutes per game this season coming off the bench in Atlanta.
His true value however comes on the other side of the ball. Bembry is a committed defender that has averaged 1.3 SPG in each of the last two seasons. He has put up positive win shares in all of his first four seasons with the Hawks. Bembry only shoots 26.9% from three-point range, but shooting would not be his primary responsibility. If he were to join the Clippers’ bench, he’d be playing alongside great shooters like Williams and Shamet, barring any trades, opening up the opportunity to be a primary defender with this second unit.
#6 Jordan Clarkson (Unrestricted FA)
Clarkson is a great bench player for a playoff contending team. He provided an invaluable spark off the bench for the Utah Jazz this season in route to them securing the 6th seed in the West. Clarkson shot 45.4% and 36.8% from the field and three-point range during his 71 combined games with Utah and Cleveland last season, both career highs for the soon to be 7th year guard.
Clarkson presents a potential problem when paired with Lou Williams. The same problem that became notable during the Clippers’ playoff run when they decided to bench Reggie Jackson against Denver. Clarkson is known mainly for his offensive prowess, not for his defense. This may not be a big issue considering he could play alongside Kawhi or Paul George for stretches, but it may prove to be problematic again come next postseason. Regardless, Clarkson is a good option to add wing depth.
#5 Alec Burks (Unrestricted FA)
Burks is a 6’6 shooting guard entering his 10th season in the league. He’s a prototypical journey-man in the NBA. Burks has provided instant offense off the bench at each of his stops including a career high 15.0 PPG throughout the 2020 season. He averaged 16.1 points during his 48 games with the Warriors this season. Burks is a great candidate to fill out the back up wing position with his length and experience.
On his career, he averages only 0.7 SPG, including a career high 0.9 SPG last season in 26.6 minutes per contest. He’s by no means an elite defender, but playing behind, or alongside, PG and Kawhi provides a great opportunity to mask any deficiencies on that side of the ball, similar to Clarkson. This would allow Burks to thrive in his offensive role. Burks’s value could rise even higher if Williams is involved in some sort of trade situation.
#4 Michael Carter-Williams (Unrestricted FA)
MCW put up a tremendous rookie season with the Sixers before becoming somewhat of a journey man over the last five seasons. He has played for five different teams during that stretch before finally settling into a consistent bench role with the Orlando Magic this season. Carter-Williams averaged a career high from every spot on the court last season including 3P% (29.3%), 2P% (48.1%), FG% (42.7%), and FT% (83.2%). The 28-year-old guard still has a lot of gas left in the tank and seems to be back on an upward trend. His 6’5 frame allows him to play either guard position, as well as some small forward in some small ball lineups.
This also allows him to be an above average defender, especially for a bench player. He averages 1.3 steals per contest on his career, including 1.1 SPG last season. MCW can provide scoring, rebounding, playmaking, defense, and versatility to this team without needing the ball in his hands to contribute, all incredibly valuable additions.
#3 Joe Harris (Unrestricted FA)
Harris is set to be one of the best shooters on the free agent market this off season. He averages 42.6% from distance on his career, including a league leading 47.4% in 2019. Harris is a 6’6 guard capable of playing the 2 or 3 position. Last season yielded a career high in points for Harris at 14.5. Now the Nets are looking to land a third star to pair with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Harris has proven himself to be a serviceable player and exceptional deep threat. Brooklyn may not be able to afford both him and a third All Star.
Not much else has to be said about Harris’s game. His shooting is elite. His versatility is invaluable. Harris is a top tier role player for any contender. An elite shooter like him can fit into any lineup with relative ease. His length allows him to be a capable team defender, potentially avoiding some of the defensive issues the Clippers faced last season with the likes of Jackson and Shamet.
#2 Wesley Matthews (Player Option)
Matthews played an integral role in the Bucks 2020 run. His team finished with the best record in the league and were upset by the surprising Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. Matthews’ defense, leadership, and floor spacing all played a major part in Milwaukee’s success. He was brought to the team in an attempt to add more wing shooters and defense. The strategy clearly worked as the Bucks finished with the highest defensive rating in the league, all while Matthews shot upwards of 36% from distance.
Standing at 6’4, Matthews plays defense bigger than his height. He’s capable of guarding all three positions on the perimeter. His stellar defense and shooting have earned him a place in this league for several years now. He’s the perfect role player to compliment a star with a drive and score/kick skill set. Conveniently, the Clippers have two such players. Matthews is also the perfect fit to plug into the starting lineup should any of the four perimeter players miss games.
#1 Tim Hardaway Jr. (Player Option)
Tim Hardaway Jr. was quite the thorn in the Clippers’ side during the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs. He averaged 17.8 PPG on 42.1% from the field (35.2% from 3P). This was no fluke either. Hardaway averaged 15.8 PPG in 71 games this season while shooting 39.8% from distance. He’s become a secondary scoring threat through his first seven seasons in the league, and I have little hope that he would opt of playing along a Superstar like Luka Doncic. But. If he does decide to opt out a year early, he might get the chance to play alongside two star players in Kawhi and PG.
Both stars would likely start ahead of Hardaway, but Clippers fans know better than anyone that it’s good to have starting caliber reserves. Especially when your starting wings have a history with injuries. Hardaway’s length would allow him to play any position on the perimeter alongside starters or with the bench unit. This type of versatility and shooting is exactly what the Clippers will likely look for this offseason when searching for another complimentary wing.