A Look Back At The 2021 Los Angeles Clippers

July 19th, 2021

By Alan Lu

Last year, it was surprising that the Clippers were eliminated in their second round series to the Denver Nuggets, and some changes needed to be made.  Out was former head coach Doc Rivers, and in was new head coach Tyronn Lue, who had coached the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers to a title.  They also ended up signing Serge Ibaka and they later added Nicolas Batum. 

These turned out to be good moves, and while the Clippers were still eliminated in the Western Conference Finals this year, they inched closer to their goal of winning a championship, and they were able to get to the Western Conference Finals despite losing Kawhi Leonard in the second round due to a knee sprain.

The 2021 Clippers also managed to come back down from multiple 0-2 deficits to win the first two rounds of their series, and they’ve received strong performances from Paul George and Terance Mann in Kawhi’s absence in the latter half of their playoff run this year.

Los Angeles Clippers’ superstar forward, Kawhi Leonard played very well when he was healthy, but it was unfortunate that he ended up getting injured in the playoffs, which caused him to miss the rest of the postseason.
(Photo:
Harry How/Getty Images, via DraftKings Nation)

F Kawhi Leonard
2021 (LAC): 52 GP, 24.8 PPG, 6.5 RPG, 5.2 APG, 1.6 SPG, 51 FG%, 40 3PT%, 88 FT%, 26 PER, 62 TS%, 8.8 WS, .238 WS48

He played terrific basketball when he was on the court, and Leonard excelled in doing everything for his team on the court.  He was hampered by injuries, and his unemotional style may cause some to doubt his leadership skills, because when he was hurt, they seemed to win more when he was in the press box rather than when he was on the sidelines with them.

2021 Season Grade: A-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting forward on the Los Angeles Clippers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 4 stars

Leonard has a player option that he can exercise for next season.

Paul George played very well this past season, and he helped lead his team to more playoff wins than expected when Kawhi was out in the postseason.
(Photo:
Rick Bowmer/Associated Press, via The Los Angeles Times)

F Paul George
2021 (LAC): 54 GP, 23.3 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 5.2 APG, 47 FG%, 41 3PT%, 87 FT%, 20.5 PER, 60 TS%, 5.3 WS, .139 WS48

George excelled on offense and on the boards in the regular season, and he was also able to redeem himself in the playoffs by turning in strong performances to help lead his team to a few wins in the absence of Kawhi Leonard.

2021 Season Grade: A-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Starting forward on the Los Angeles Clippers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 4 stars

Reggie Jackson is an athletic shot maker that turned in some very strong, impressive games in the playoffs this year.
(Photo:
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press, via The Los Angeles Times)

G Reggie Jackson
2021 (LAC): 67 GP, 10.7 PPG, 3.1 APG, 2.9 RPG, 45 FG%, 43 3PT%, 82 FT%, 14.2 PER, 58 TS%, 3.7 WS, .115 WS48

He is an athletic combo guard that really excelled as a shooter and scorer in his role with the Clippers, and he helped them reel off some stunning playoff wins.  He did struggle a bit at times defensively, and there were times where he couldn’t make shots on offense, but Jackson generally had a good season this year.

2021 Season Grade: B+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

Jackson will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

C Ivica Zubac
2021 (LAC): 72 GP, 9 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.3 APG, 65 FG%, 79 FT%, 19.1 PER, 69 TS%, 6.9 WS, .206 WS48

He really excelled as an interior player this year, and he showed a knack for scoring and rebounding in the paint.  In the playoffs, he had some good games, but there were also some games where he looked sluggish defensively.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Los Angeles Clippers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

G Patrick Beverley
2021 (LAC): 37 GP, 7.5 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 2.1 APG, 42 FG%, 40 3PT%, 80 FT%, 12 PER, 58 TS%, 2.1 WS, .119 WS48

He is a pesky point guard that had a good season this year for the Clippers.  He excelled as a shooter and defender, and he is one of the best defenders in the league.   Beverley is an agitator that can be a shut down defender, especially when he is both on his game, and when he can play mind games with his opponents.

 He doesn’t really look to score the basketball enough and his assists were down, and sometimes his temper can get in his way.  The playoffs were a roller coaster ride for Beverley, as he had his highs, but also some very low lows that culminated in him pushing Chris Paul down, as he got ejected in his final playoff game this year.

2021 Season Grade: B-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Los Angeles Clippers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Los Angeles Clippers’ veteran big man, Marcus Morris played well this past year, and he especially thrived in the regular season.
(Photo:
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press)

F-C Marcus Morris
2021 (LAC): 57 GP, 13.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 1 APG, 47 FG%, 47 3PT%, 82 FT%, 14.5 PER, 61 TS%, 3.6 WS, .115 WS48

He had a solid season this year.  He shot the ball really well, as he thrived as a shooter and scorer in his role, but he was fairly inconsistent in the playoffs.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Los Angeles Clippers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

Los Angeles Clippers’ veteran big man, Nicolas Batum excelled in his role, as he brought forth solid shooting, playmaking, and defensive skills to his team this past season.
(Photo:
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images, via The Orange County Register)

F-C Nicolas Batum
2021 (LAC): 67 GP, 8.1 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.2 APG, 46 FG%, 40 3PT%, 83 FT%, 12.9 PER, 62 TS%, 5 WS, .132 WS48

Batum was quietly a very good pickup for the Clippers.  He did a very good job of knocking down shots, and he thrived as a facilitator and defender.  He shot the three-ball very well, which greatly complemented the rest of the game.  He was underused at times in the playoffs, but his versatility, skills, and wisdom helped his team get more wins than they probably should have with Kawhi out for the latter part of their postseason run.

2021 Season Grade: A-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Los Angeles Clippers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2.5 stars

Batum will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

Los Angeles Clippers’ second-year swingman, Terance Mann played very well this year, and he managed to score 39 points in his team’s Game 6 win in the second round over the Utah Jazz in the 2021 NBA playoffs.
(Photo:
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press, via Boston.com)

G-F Terance Mann
2021 (LAC): 67 GP, 7.0 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 1.6 APG, 51 FG%, 42 3PT%, 83 FT%, 13.8 PER, 60 TS%, 3.7 WS, .141 WS48

He had a very good season, as he thrived as an all-around player in his role for the Clippers, and his best game was when he scored 39 points in his team’s Game 6 win in the second round over the Utah Jazz to help his team advance to the Western Conference Finals.  On the downside, he can really struggle when he’s not making shots, and his gambling tendencies would sometimes get exposed by more skilled scorers in the playoffs.

2021 Season Grade: A
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Los Angeles Clippers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars (3 stars potential)

Mann’s contract is non-guaranteed for next season.

G-F Luke Kennard
2021 (LAC): 63 GP, 8.3 PPG, 2.6 RPG, 1.7 APG, 48 FG%, 45 3PT%, 84 FT%, 12.7 PER, 61 TS%, 2.7 WS, .105 WS48

He shot the ball very well, as he thrived as a sharpshooter in his role with the Clippers this year, but he also struggled defensively.  He was more of an offensive specialist when he saw the floor this year.

2021 Season Grade: C+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on the Los Angeles Clippers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars (3 stars potential)

F-C Serge Ibaka
2021 (LAC): 41 GP, 11.1 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.8 APG, 51 FG%, 34 3PT%, 81 FT%, 18.2 PER, 58 TS%, 3 WS, .150 WS48

He did a good job of scoring and rebounding in his role for the Clippers, but he struggled to be as consistent with his outside shot or defense this year.  He played well in his role and provided some veteran guidance, but he ended up getting hurt early in the playoffs this year.

2021 Season Grade: C
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Ibaka has a player option that he can exercise for next season.

C DeMarcus Cousins
2021 (HOU/LAC): 41 GP, 8.9 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.9 APG, 43 FG%, 35 3PT%, 73 FT%, 16.4 PER, 54 TS%, 1.2 WS, .079 WS48

He signed midway with the Clippers in the season.  He played very well in the regular season, as he not only excelled as an interior player, but he showed off a solid three-point shot.  In the playoffs, while he did a good job of making shots, he really struggled defensively, and sometimes his temper would lead him to commit silly fouls.

2021 Season Grade: C (D+ w/HOU, B- w/LAC)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

Cousins will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

G Rajon Rondo
2021 (ATL/LAC): 45 GP, 5.4 PPG, 4.4 APG, 2.4 RPG, 44 FG%, 40 3PT%, 94 FT%, 13.2 PER, 54 TS%, 1.3 WS, .081 WS48

It looked to be an odd choice and fit for him to sign with the young, Atlanta Hawks, and Rondo and the Hawks never really endeared themselves to each other.  Rondo ended up getting traded to the Clippers, and he thrived all-around in the regular season, and he really showed a much-improved jump shot.

However, he struggled to make plays consistently in the playoffs, and opponents would take advantage of his gambling tendencies on the defensive end to be able to score on him.

2021 Season Grade: C (D w/ATL, B w/LAC)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Rotation player on an NBA team
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 2 stars

F Amir Coffey (Two-Way)
2021 (LAC): 44 GP, 3.2 PPG, 1 RPG, 44 FG%, 41 3PT%, 71 FT%, 10.1 PER, 58 TS%, 0.7 WS, .085 WS48

He is an athletic forward that thrived as a shooter and scorer in his role on offense, and he could compete for more playing time and a rotation spot on the Clippers next season.

2021 Season Grade: B
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

F-C Patrick Patterson
2021 (LAC): 38 GP, 5.2 PPG, 2 RPG, 44 FG%, 36 3PT%, 76 FT%, 10.9 PER, 57 TS%, 1.2 WS, .101 WS48

He provided his team with some shooting and scoring in a reserve role for the Clippers, but he didn’t rebound nor defend particularly well, and he also did not play in the playoffs.

2021 Season Grade: C-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

Patterson will be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) at the end of the 2020-21 NBA season.

G Yogi Ferrell
2021 (CLE/LAC): 10 GP, 5.6 PPG, 2.2 APG, 1.9 RPG, 35 FG%, 32 3PT%, 78 FT%, 14.4 PER, 46 TS%, 0.3 WS, .099 WS48

He was on the Clippers this year?  I honestly did not know that until I looked up their roster on Basketball-Reference.  He didn’t play much, and whether if he could’ve done more on this Clippers’ team is anyone’s guess and a shrug at best.

2021 Season Grade: D- (D- w/CLE and LAC)
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars

Ferrell’s contract is non-guaranteed for next season.

F-C Daniel Oturu
2021 (LAC): 30 GP, 1.8 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 42 FG%, 75 FT%, 12.5 PER, 47 TS%, 0.3 WS, .081 WS48

He didn’t score the ball very efficiently and he struggled defensively in limited minutes, but he was able to rebound and block shots this year.

2021 Season Grade: D
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

G-F Jay Scrubb (Two-Way)
2021 (LAC): 4 GP, 8.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1 SPG, 39 FG%, 22 3PT%, 100 FT%, 6.3 PER, 46 TS%, -0.1 WS, -0.072 WS48

Scrubb had gotten injured early in the season, and it was thought that he would either miss the entire season or almost all of it.  It’s a good thing that he was able to get into a handful of games late in the year.

He is an athletic forward that is an aggressive scorer, and he also will look to rebound and defend, but he is a project player that didn’t really do any one thing well at the NBA level this year.

2021 Season Grade: C-
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Back end roster player, possible back end of the rotation player in the NBA
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 1.5 stars (2 stars potential)

Head Coach:
Tyronn Lue
2021 (LAC): 47-25, 10-8 in the playoffs
Coaching Career: 175-108, 51-28 in his playoff career, won an NBA championship with the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers

Los Angeles Clippers’ head coach, Tyronn Lue had a very good season as the head coach this year, and he helped his team go further in the playoffs than expected, as he especially coached them well when Kawhi was out in the postseason.
(Photo:
Kyusung Gong/Associated Press, via The Los Angeles Times)

This year, Tyronn Lue was a very experimental coach that was able to make some solid tactical adjustments to help the Clippers rally back from multiple 0-2 deficits to win their first two rounds in the 2021 NBA playoffs.

The Clippers got pretty far with Kawhi out for the latter part of their postseason run, but against the Suns, they struggled to make shots or to defend consistently, and they couldn’t find the right lineup mix or a way to defeat their opponent consistently in the Western Conference Finals, as they lost to them in 6 games this year.

2021 Season Grade: B+
Expected 2022 NBA Role: Head coach of the Los Angeles Lakers
Projected 2022 NBA Rating: 3 stars

A Brief Summary of the 2020-21 Los Angeles Clippers’ Season:

The Clippers weren’t expected to last this long in the playoffs once Kawhi got hurt during the middle of their second round series against Utah, but they managed to overcome this loss for one series to defeat the Jazz to advance to the Western Conference Finals.

The Clippers were a gutsy team that relied on their depth and talent of their overall roster, as well as on their creativity of their coach to get to the Western Conference Finals, but they ran out of steam and ended up losing to the Suns there in 6 games.

The 2020-21 Los Angeles Clippers’ Season Grade: B

The Los Angeles Clippers’ Projected 2021-22 NBA Rotation:

Projected Starters:
C Marcus Morris
F Kawhi Leonard
F Paul George
G Terance Mann
G Patrick Beverley

Key Reserves:
G-F Luke Kennard
F-C Nicolas Batum
C Ivica Zubac
C Serge Ibaka
G Rajon Rondo

Others competing for a spot in the rotation next season:
The 25th Overall Pick of the 2021 NBA Draft
F Amir Coffey (Two-Way)

Other players that are currently projected to be on their next season’s roster:
F Jay Scrubb (Two-Way)
C Daniel Oturu

Impending Unrestricted Free Agents:
G Reggie Jackson – Not Expected Back
F Nicolas Batum – Expected Back
C DeMarcus Cousins – Not Expected Back
F Patrick Patterson – Not Expected Back

Players with an Impending Player Option:
F Kawhi Leonard – Expected Back
C Serge Ibaka – Expected Back

2021 NBA Draft Picks:
#25

Projected Offseason Plan for the Los Angeles Clippers:
They will likely roll with the guys they have, and they’ll try to bring as many guys they have back, and they’ll likely make some tweaks to become a more well-rounded team.

Their first order of business to make sure Kawhi opts in to play for them next year, and they will likely try to bring back Reggie Jackson, Nicolas Batum, and others.  Jackson and Cousins may elect to cash out via free agency so it is uncertain if they will stay, but the Clippers will likely try to get them to re-sign.  In the meantime, they have one draft pick, and they will most likely draft a player that can play off of Kawhi and Paul George, or they could go with the best player available in the draft.

The 2022 Los Angeles Clippers’ Expected Win-Loss Record, and Projected 2022 Season Prediction:
53-29, 1st in the Western Conference in 2022

Expected 2022 Season Outcome: 
They are likely to finish at or near the top of the standings, and the Clippers are likely to be a top-4 seed in the West.  If they are able to retain their most important players, especially Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers could have a decent shot to win the NBA title next season.

I primarily went to Basketball-Reference and No Trade Clause for research purposes. For more information on my ratings scale and how I rate NBA players and coaches, you can find it here. Thanks for reading.

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