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 Coffey|
|SF||Kawhi Leonard||Landry Shamet||Rodney McGruder|
|PF||JaMychal Green (P/O)|
|C||Ivica Zubac||Joakim Noah||Mfiondu Kabengele|
Much like the shooting guard group, small forward is not a position the Clippers are lacking in. Kawhi, George, Shamet, McGruder, even Coffey or Mann can play this position to some extent if needed. If a FA is signed at this position, we can only assume that the Clippers have traded one of the afore mentioned players, or they’re following suit with the Rockets’ Super Small ball strategy.
Top Ten Free Agent Small Forwards to Target
Keep in mind, this list is based solely on small forwards that are set to be free agents. Any sort of trade or sign-and-trade speculation will be considered in a different article. These players are simply those on the market to be signed this summer.
Other Notable Free Agent Small Forwards
#10 Dwayne Bacon (Restricted FA)
Bacon has logged most of his minutes at the shooting guard position. However, for the sake of this article, we’re considering his 6’6, 221 lb build, as well as the increasing tendency of NBA teams to play small ball. Bacon has only ever played for the Hornets during his young career: a notoriously bad franchise for the last several seasons. He’s been thrust into a high opportunity bench role with little to no supporting cast, especially after the departure of Kemba Walker, that he may not have been ready for. Thus, resulting in his subpar 5.3 PPG career average.
But don’t count out Bacon yet. The 24-year-old wing player still has a lot of time and potential to work with. Given a new situation with a more defined role, Bacon could prove to be a great value for the Clippers at a low cost. The team is not in desperate need of talent at this position, only more depth. Given Bacon’s below average performance so far in his career, this signing could prove to be a low-cost option with potentially high reward. Not to mention Los Angeles would be giving a young player a change of scenery as well as two of the best wing players in the league to learn from. This pairing has the potential to benefit everyone involved.
#9 Josh Jackson (Unrestricted FA)
Josh Jackson was taken with the 4th overall pick back in 2017. Unfortunately, he did not quite meet the hype right away. He averaged 13.1 PPG and 4.6 RPG during his rookie campaign with Phoenix. Jackson signed with the Grizzlies midway through the 2020 season and showed a lot of promising signs despite averaging only 9.0 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 1.6 assists during 17.3 minutes per contest.
He has shot roughly 32% from distance over each of the last two seasons. His 44.0% shooting during 2020 with Memphis was a career high mark. Though his stats are not eye popping, the 23-year-old swing man still has a lot of potential waiting to be realized. His 6’8 frame allows him to play either wing position and potentially some small-ball power forward. His defense and versatility make up for any short-comings on the offensive side of the ball, especially when used in a bench role. Jackson would not be expected to play big minutes backing up George and Kawhi, but he could be a cheap option for the Clippers to add more length and depth to their 2nd unit.
#8 Evan Turner (Unrestricted FA)
Turner is a savvy NBA veteran that just finished his 10th season in the league. He’s known for his playmaking ability from the wing position and even spent some time backing up Trae Young in Atlanta running the 2nd unit last season. On his career he averages only 9.7 points to go along with 4.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists per contest. His scoring is mediocre, including a career 3P% below 30%, but Turner affects games in more ways than one. His other stats are well rounded and serviceable, especially with a bench unit that has as much offensive capability as LAC’s.
This signing would likely be at or near the veteran minimum, providing a cheap playmaker for the Clippers bench unit. Standing at 6’6, Turner can plug in holes anywhere from 1-3, allowing a tremendous amount of versatility even in lineups without PG or Kawhi. As noted before, his shooting tends to be subpar, but this deficiency would not keep him off the floor. The Clippers would likely provide plenty of opportunity to play a 6’6, playmaking wing in their star-studded lineup.
#7 Solomon Hill (Unrestricted FA)
Hill has been a rock-solid role player ever since his second season in the league. His averages are not star quality, but he’s been incredibly consistent in any role he’s been in. His two seasons as a full-time starter yielded 3P%’s upwards of 38%, and PPG averages upwards of 7.0.
Hill started last season with Memphis, shooting a career high 36.8% from deep. He was later traded to Miami as part of the Andre Iguodala deal where he averaged only 4.5 PPG in 11 games with the Heat. Miami made it further in the Eastern Conference playoffs than most expected, and they’re not done yet. They are also, however, still in talks to acquire a third star this off-season to pair with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. This may leave little room for role players of Hill’s caliber in terms of cap space. If Hill is in search of a contender to join, the Clippers would be a fantastic fit for his skillset.
#6 Torrey Craig (Restricted FA)
Craig has been a staple in the Denver Nuggets rotation for the last two seasons. The 6’7 small forward has been a consistent option on both sides of the ball. He averages 0.4 SPG and 0.6 BPG on his career, steady numbers for a role player who typically comes off the bench. Craig also averages shooting 32% from deep on his career, including a career high 32.6% during 2020.
Craig started 27 out of 58 games played this season, proving his worth as a fringe starter capable of starting in place of injured players. In the 2020 Western Conference Semi-Finals, Craig played a healthy role in eliminating the Clippers in heartbreaking fashion. He played solid defense on the struggling Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, as well as hitting big shots down the stretch of Denver’s successful comeback efforts. The soon to be 4th year player has been in big moments and knows how to play his role to perfection.
#5 Justin Holiday (Unrestricted FA)
Clippers fans may have a different Holiday brother on the mind, and he may very well be in the cards this off-season, but in terms of free agents, Justin is one of the best small forwards on the market. He averages 8.1 PPG on his career, including a career high 12.2 PPG during his one full season in Chicago. More importantly, he shoots roughly 36% from distance on his career. This includes a career high 40.5% on 4.5 attempts per game during 2020.
Holiday is a 6’6 wing player that spends a lot of time at the SG position. As mentioned earlier however, his size and length allow him to play either wing position efficiently, especially alongside a smaller scoring threat like Lou Williams. Holiday’s efficient shooting numbers combined with his defensive proficiency (1.2 SPG in 2020) make him a great option to fill out the bench unit.
#4 Malik Beasley (Restricted FA)
Beasley is coming off of his 4th season in the NBA following a trade from Denver to Minnesota. Through his first 3.5 seasons, Beasley averaged only 7.4 PPG over 206 games with only 19 career starts. He put up a decent 0.7 SPG in his best career season in Denver. All of these are average stats for a young bench player. The most intriguing part about Beasley comes after his trade to Minnesota.
In 14 games, yes, we know that’s a small sample size, Beasley started all 14 games, averaged 20.7 PPG and 5.1 RPG, and shot upwards of 47% from the field and 42% from deep. Again, this is quite the small sample size. But it’s also an incredible feat. Beasley has proven that, given the right opportunity, he can thrive in his role. The 6’4 swing man is a solid defender, great shooter, and near perfect option for the Clippers to take a chance on this offseason to complement their star duo.
#3 Glenn Robinson III (Unrestricted FA)
Robinson started last season on pace to average career highs in PPG (12.9), APG (1.8), RPG (4.7), SPG (0.9), and BPG (0.3). All while shooting 48.1% from the field and 40.0% from deep. After being traded to the Sixers for a bundle of draft picks, Robinson struggled to re-find his groove. He still shot 51.8% from the field in Philly, including 33.3% from distance. However, his averages dropped to 7.7 PPG, 31. RPG, and 0.8 APG while playing alongside the Sixers’ starts.
Robinson still managed to account for career highs in PPG (11.7), RPG (4.4), APG (1.5), SPG (0.9), and BPG (0.3) despite the drop in production post-trade. His three-point shooting was borderline elite last season, finishing at 39.1% from behind the arc. This type of offensive versatility would compliment any star, especially two defensive studs like the Clippers’ duo. Not to mention Robinson’s 6’6 frame allows him to compete with the best athletically on both sides of the ball.
#2 Derrick Jones Jr. (Unrestricted FA)
Jones, or DJJ, is known for his high flying, acrobatic finishing ability. In fact, he secured a controversial win in the 2020 NBA Dunk contest over fellow high-flyer Aaron Gordon. His tendency to play above the rim has aided DJJ in shooting over 51% from the field on his career, including 52.7% last season with the Heat. He does, however, only shoot 28.2% from deep on his career.
Despite his subpar three-point shooting, Jones stands at an athletic 6’6, with an impressive 7’0 wingspan. Awe-inspiring dunks are not the only beneficiary of Jones’s insane build and athleticism. DJJ averages 0.7 SPG and 0.6 BPG over has career. The Heat have utilized Jones’s defensive capability on multiple occasions by inserting him into a shooting guard, or occasionally even point guard, position during critical defensive possessions when they need a stop. His length combined with speed and athleticism make him a tremendous defender against opposing players playing 1-4.
#1 Kent Bazemore (Unrestricted FA)
Bazemore is the perfect prototype for a 3 & D wing. He spends even amounts of time at the shooting guard and small forward position, usually guarding the other team’s best ball handler when he’s on the court. Despite being only 6’4, Bazemore has an incredible 7’0 wingspan. This has helped him to average 1.0 SPG and 0.5 BPG over his career, including career highs of 1.5 and 0.7 respectively.
Along with his exceptional length and defensive prowess, Bazemore is a career 35.1% 3P shooter, possessing the ability to stretch defenses for other offensive threats. A team that possesses as many offensive threats as the Clippers do can only benefit from a 3P shooter like Bazemore. He is more than capable of filling the occasional starting role should the need arise, as well as masking Lou Williams’ defensive deficiencies on the bench unit.