Adding James Harden might have just improved the Clippers’ title odds. Harden led the league in Assists last season. However, scoring is probably his most notable trait. It also tends to be what many expert observers call his downfall. This will be the first time that Harden will play with two elite wings such as Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. They also have Russell Westbrook, who has established himself as a leader in LA. The three of them combined will take significant pressure of Harden to be a scorer.
The Clippers needed to keep Terance Mann out of the deal and they did just that. However, they consolidated the depth at Power Forward by trading away Marcus Morris, Nicolas Batum and Robert Covington. All of whom, have their own strengths; Morris was relied on for his physicality and shooting, Batum for his versatility on defense and ability to space the floor and Covington for his active hands.
The Clippers managed to turn all three of them into a talent upgrade while also getting P.J. Tucker back. The latter can provide solid intangibles and toughness in a significantly reduced role.
The goal for the Clippers is to win now. George and Leonard can both opt out of their deals in 2024. While, Harden is a free agent who can’t be extended. This was a deal that they had to make in order to maximize the roster. Rightfully so, the addition of Harden improved the Clippers championship odds from +2600 to +1300. The situation will probably be revisited by all players and the organization at the end of the season.
The deal that had been in the works for the greater part of four months, wound up getting done late Monday evening on the eve of Halloween. When you take a deeper dive into the players, on paper this should be a championship roster. However, you also have to take into consideration the fact that Leonard hasn’t won in five years. George, Harden and Westbrook have never won and neither has the Clippers franchise. It’s a tall task that could be completed if the players mesh well.
The deal definitely makes the Clippers smaller at the forward positions, but they already had plans on being small thereafter naming Mann a starter. That’s why Harden might be a good fit.
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