NBA champion Steve Smith is going with the Los Angeles Clippers to win it all next season.
Despite LeBron James poised to come back well-rested and armed with a new co-star in Anthony Davis, former NBA All-Star Steve Smith doesn’t think it’s enough to overpower the new-look Clippers for NBA supremacy.
“I’m going by what [the Clippers] did last year — the chemistry they had, ownership and coaching — then you add two guys who I don’t think disrupt their chemistry,” Steve Smith told FanSided’s Mark Carman. “Other teams, there’s some guys I don’t think they’ll gel that quick but the style of play with Paul George and Kawhi Leonard fits right in.”
The Clippers pulled off something that many teams try to execute every offseason — try to keep core players intact while adding more firepower to set you over the top. Giving up five first-round picks and a solid young piece like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander seems like a hefty haul for Paul George, but the pairing between George and Leonard is one of those moves that you never realized how much sense it makes until it happens.
Couple that with the fact that the Clippers didn’t have to give up Lou Williams or Montrezel Harrell and re-signed Patrick Beverley, it makes complete sense why Smith favors them over the neighboring Lakers. That’s not saying Smith thinks the Lakers should be counted out, we all know to never underestimate a LeBron James-led team, however, it might take a bit longer for the Showtime Lakers to be just that.
“How quickly can they have chemistry and symmetry between ownership, management, coach and player,” said Smith, who in partnership with FedEx participated as a panel judge at the FedEx Junior Business Challenge finals. “It can be done I just think the Clippers have more of that in place, but you can’t count out a LeBron James team with Anthony Davis who I think is one of the top 2-3 talents that has a lot to prove.”
Both teams will be jockeying for the top spot in the west and will be at the center of most NBA conversations, while out East Philadelphia is Smith’s pick to advance to the NBA Finals.
Despite losing Jimmy Butler to Miami the 76ers gained Al Horford while re-signing Tobias Harris, and even though this is Joel Embiid’s team, he’s not the reason Smith favors them to come out of the East.
‘They have a guy I’ve always loved in Al Horford,” Smith said. “Just seems like wherever he goes — he’s a stable leader who will help the 76ers playing alongside Embiid, and we talk about load management, Al could cover that center spot while Embiid is out.”
By acquiring Horford, Philadelphia secured the only guy in the league who has had a history of making the game harder for Embiid. With Leonard moving out West and the Brooklyn Nets being one year away from serious contention it appears to be a three-way race between Philly, Milwaukee and Boston in the east.
Whichever team comes out on top, it’s without a doubt one of the most anticipated seasons in recent memory due to the heavy amount of movement this offseason.