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|
The power forward position has easily the most question marks for the Clippers headed into next season. Morris and Patterson are both free agents, and JaMychal Green has a player option to opt out of his contract this off season. That’s potentially all three true power forwards on the roster. Regardless of who comes back and who doesn’t there are a lot of power forwards set to be free agents this offseason that cold help improve the Clippers.
Top Ten Free Agent Power Forwards to Target
Keep in mind, this list is based solely on power 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 Power Forwards
#10 James Johnson (Player Option)
The second-degree black belt is another greatly underrated big man in the league. At 6’7, Johnson is capable if playing multiple positions on both sides of the ball. His versatility is compounded by his defensive, ball handling, and shooting ability. Johnson has played a crucial part in both Toronto and Miami over the last several seasons in a point forward role. The same role he has the potential to fill for the Clippers.
The Clippers might not get quite this level of athleticism from Johnson, but he still possesses a wide range of skills and abilities.
After he was traded from Miami to Minnesota last season, he played only 14 games. In this small sample size, he came off the bench 13 times and averaged 12.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, and 3.8 APG. This is an incredibly well-rounded stat line, especially for a power forward running the bench unit. Johnson has the potential to be a major factor on a contender like the Clippers, filling out a secondary playmaker role. He is also versatile enough to start at both the PF and SF position if someone like Kawhi where to miss a few games due to injury.
#9 Markieff Morris (Unrestricted)
This option might be too expensive for the Clippers if they bring back both Green and Markieff’s brother Marcus. However, it’s still an option to reunite the identical twins. Marcus has grown into the reputation of “better brother,” but Markieff still has an impressive resume to this point in his career. He has career averages of 11.4 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
The twins have been known to play better when playing alongside each other, as is evident in their college years and time with the Phoenix Suns. The Morris twins are both well into their primes at this point in their careers, and they haven’t played together since the 2014-15 season. This reunion has potential to spark a fire in both brothers as they look to contend for a championship. Markieff’s talent alone could land him higher on this list, but the likelihood of both him leaving the Lakers and the Clippers having the space to sign him is slim.
#8 Chris Boucher (Restricted)
If you haven’t heard of him yet, it’s time to do some research. The 3rd year big man from Canada is on the rise. His overall stats are not eye popping yet sitting at just 6.6 points and 4.5 rebounds per contest last season, but keep in mind the level of talent he’s playing with. Boucher is fighting for minutes on one of the best bench units in the league. His minutes come behind the likes of Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka, and Marc Gasol. After those three, he’s fighting with other athletic forwards like Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Stanley Johnson for rotation minutes. And winning.
Last season, Boucher averaged 13.2 MPG, a sizable leap from his 5.8 MPG in 2019. His stats are a little more impressive considering his limited role over the last two years. Per 36 minutes, Boucher averages 18.1 PPG, 12.2 RPG, and 2.7 BPG. Obviously, Boucher won’t play 36 minutes on a championship contender, but he showed great grit and poise in big moments last season. He hit timely threes and made huge plays on the defensive end in several important games. Boucher possesses the ability and potential; he just needs the right opportunity.
#7 Dario Saric (Restricted)
Saric is set to enter his 5th season in the league in 2020. Through his first four years, he averages 12.2 PPG and 6.2 RPG. However, his real value comes in his playmaking ability from the power forward position. Saric possesses above average ball handling and passing skills for a 6’10 forward. He is also an above average three-point shooter, making him a prototypical stretch big for small ball lineups. On his career, Saric shoots 35.8% from down town, a great number for a 6’10 power forward.
The biggest hitch in Saric’s game comes on the defensive side of the ball. He isn’t known for his lateral quickness, so he struggles some to stay in front of small guards on the perimeter. He does however, average a decent number of steals (0.6), pointing to him being a smart player on both sides of the ball. Whatever deficiencies he has on the defensive end could easily be masked by a great defensive team and scheme. The Clippers did not show their full defensive capability last season, but they still boast several good defenders with tremendous defensive potential.
#6 Derrick Favors (Unrestricted)
Favors has been an underrated presence in the league throughout his entire career. He previously posted consecutive seasons of 16+ PPG and 8+ RPG during his time with the Jazz, not quite elite numbers but great nonetheless. During his lone season with the Pelicans last year, Favors averaged roughly 9.0 PPG. Washed? Not quite. Favors also averaged career highs in RPG (9.8), APG (1.6), and FG% (.617). All incredible feats for the 10th year big man.
His career averages of 11.4 and 7.4 are easy to point to in terms of helping a contender in need. Perhaps more importantly than that however is his veteran presence. Favors is of a rare breed in today’s NBA; he came into the league fresh out of high school at 19 years old. Because of this, the rock solid big is set to enter his 11th season at the young age of 29 years old. In spot minutes, he still produced in a major way for the young Pelicans squad last season. Clearly, Favors still has some gas left in the tank.
#5 Jae Crowder (Unrestricted)
A true small ball power forward, Crowder splits his time between the three and four spots. During his time with the Heat this season, Crowder has played a lot of power forward, allowing more space for the Heat guards to drive and operate in the lane. Through 20 regular season games with Miami in 2020, Crowder shot upwards of 44% from deep. 44%! That’s elite shooting by any standards.
Crowder also has enough length and strength to defend larger forwards despite being only 6’6. His quickness allows him to switch onto smaller players during pick and roll situations. This entire skillset fits perfectly into the modern day 3 & D wing player. Crowder has been considered one of the best role players in the league since his emergence with the Celtics in 2015-16. The three-point shooting, defensive capability, and overall versatility compliment any skill set well, especially on a roster as versatile as the Clippers’.
#4 Serge Ibaka (Unrestricted)
Ibaka came into the league as a defensive stalwart. He led the league in blocks per game in his 3rd and 4th season in the league with 3.7 and 3.0 BPG respectively. He also shot upwards of 33% from downtown in each of those seasons, and nearly every season after that. His career high 3P% came during his 8th season when he spent time in Orlando and Toronto. Ibaka shot 39.1% from distance that season, including 39.8% through 23 starts with the Raptors.
Last season in Toronto, Ibaka averaged a career low 0.8 BPG in his lowest minutes per game since his rookie season. Though his defensive numbers have consistently dropped from his career high 3.7 BPG, he’s still a serviceable defender. More than that, he’s still a tremendous offensive weapon. Last season was his 2nd best shooting season of Ibaka’s 11-year career at 38.5% from behind the arc. Ibaka would likely be a 1-year rental allowing the Clippers to be flexible with their starting unit, bench unit, and size of their lineups in pursuit of a championship next season.
#3 Christian Wood (Unrestricted)
Mark my words, Wood is a rising star. In his lone season with the Pistons last year, Wood averaged 13.1 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.9 BPG, and 0.5 SPG in only 21.4 minutes per contest. In Blake Griffin’s absence due to injury, Wood stepped up in a big way. He started 12 games and put up star level stats on a mediocre team. The opportunity in Detroit was perfect to showcase his potential.
Given the right fit with playoff team, Wood could prove to be a top big man in this league. His rebounding and defense alone make him a good fit with any squad. However, those aren’t Wood’s only useful skills. He also shoots upwards of 36% from deep on his career, including a career high 38.6% last season. When you take his shooting into consideration, you’re looking at a fringe star. If the Clippers decide to move on from players like Green. Morris, and Patterson, Wood would be an excellent candidate to fill that gap.
#2 Jerami Grant (Player Option)
The 6’8 swingman is one of the best athletes in the league. Grant has known for his leaping ability on both ends of the court, whether he’s flying high on a dunk or denying shots at the rim. With the Nuggets in 2020, Grant has made himself known as an elite defender against either forward position. He averages 1.1 SPG and 0.9 BPG on his career, but his defensive impact cannot be limited to the stat sheet. Grant’s combination of length and quickness is an elite skillset in today’s league. His ability to deny passes, contest shots, and force turnovers is unmatched.
This all goes without even mentioning Grant’s 13.6 and 12.0 PPG over the last two seasons. He’s averaged 39.1% shooting from distance over the last two seasons. To summarize, Grant posseses elite length and athleticism, great defensive tools and instincts, and well above average 3PT shooting in a 6’8 frame. The possibilities for this 26-year-old forward are endless, especially alongside the type of versatility the Clippers possess.
#1 Davis Bertans (Unrestricted)
Bertans was actually linked to the Clippers in trade talks all throughout 2020. He had a career year in his first year away from San Antonio. He put up career highs in points (15.4), rebounds (4.5), assists (1.7), steals (0.7), blocks (0.6), and minutes (29.3) per game. Unfortunately for Bertans, he was trapped in a bad situation in Washington so these stats went somewhat unnoticed by the casual fan.
Bertans is an incredibly intriguing prospect given his unique combinations of attributes. First of all, he stands at 6’10 with decent mobility, allowing him to play his natural power forward position and as a larger small forward. His presence in the paint can be felt given his outstanding length, but he leaves something to be desired when defending the perimeter. Looking at the plethora of perimeter defenders on the Clippers roster, this would likely not be a huge issue.
The most important part of Bertans’ game is his ability to pick apart defenses with his long-range shooting. Yes, I do mean long range. Bertans shot upwards 42% from distance in each of the last two seasons, and many of these bombs came from well beyond the three-point arc. At nearly 7’ tall, this type of range and accuracy is quite literally deadly for defenses. Bertans is deadly in spot up situations, running off of screens, running in transition, and even one dribble pull-ups. Bertans should be amongst the top outside candidates for the Clippers this offseason.