The Lakers and Clippers both have the talent to win an NBA title this season. Which Los Angeles team has the edge at each spot on the floor?
The dust of NBA Free Agency is beginning to settle and both franchises located in Los Angeles have reloaded in hopes of winning an NBA Championship. It seems likely that, at the very least, the Western Conference title will run through the City of Angels.
That makes it a prudent time to evaluate both rosters. This piece will walk through which team has the edge at each position on the floor. Each franchise still has the flexibility to tweak their lineup before the playoffs ultimately arrive, but there is already a ton of talent available to both head coaches. The battle at center features some new faces and one player who switched sides between these bitter rivals.
Montrezl Harrell changed teams in free agency, but he doesn’t need to alter his home address. Moving from the Clippers to the Lakers adds some extra spice to this rivalry.
He will combine with fellow free agent signing Marc Gasol to give the Lakers a really strong combination at the center position. Harrell is undersized for the position, but he makes up for that by playing with high energy. In sharp contrast, Gasol will hurt opponents with his excellent low-post defense, perimeter shooting, and passing from the high post.
The Clippers didn’t take Harrell’s departure lying down. They inked veteran Serge Ibaka to combine with Ivica Zubac to form their own two-headed monster at the center position. Zubac is the superior low post defender, but Ibaka’s advantage in terms of mobility and three-point shooting makes him the more valuable player.
Expect Ibaka and Gasol to be on the floor in their respective team’s biggest moments. Ibaka gets the edge because he still has more juice left in his legs. He’s not going to excel in isolation against the quickest point guards in the league, but he can keep the Clippers defense afloat in tough situations by his ability to cover ground between the perimeter and the rim. Both teams have really good options at the center position, but Ibaka’s versatility gives the Clippers an important edge.
Edge: Clippers by a nose