Clippers Lakers
League Executives think the Clippers are much better than the Lakers (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

The war in Los Angeles is going to be fierce this year. The Clippers have Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Lakers will counter with LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Which team has the upper hand? Well, most executives don’t really think it’s all that close. I think the Clippers are the much better team and the execs around the league tend to agree with me.

Ethan Straus of The Athletic polled some NBA executives about the Lakers and Clippers:

“Everyone agrees that it exists, but to varying degrees. In league circles, Lakers skepticism has burbled about for some time, before and after Anthony Davis awkwardly made his way to Los Angeles. Questions of fit and chemistry persist, and many are noting just how many games LeBron James has played up to this point. Like the Warriors, the Lakers are also lacking in perimeter defense, in a league where it seems to matter more than ever….

Shoulder injuries are unpredictable and George will be out for a lengthy stretch. Given that Kawhi Leonard already only plays so many games, the Clippers might struggle to keep pace in the standings. As one executive put it re: the Los Angeles gap, “There is a big gap in likelihood of winning the title. Not sure about reg season wins.”

I think this hits the nail on the head here. The Clippers are an elite defensive team. George and Leonard are the best twoway players in the sport with Durant on the shelf. When you add in Pat Beverley and Montrezl Harrell, this Clippers team might be the best defensive team in the NBA. The Lakers are going to be a turnstile. LeBron can’t defend or doesn’t try anymore. Anthony Davis refuses to play center. Players like Quinn Cook and Kyle Kuzma also get cooked on that end. In terms of defensive personnel, it’s not close.

I also wonder how the chemistry works with the Lakers. LeBron James shrunk Chris Bosh and Kevin Love. They went from All-Stars to stand in the corner guys. The LeBron and Davis duo is no lock to work. I see no issues with Leonard and George. Both guys can shoot, play defense, and distribute. George has to be thrilled to turn in Westbrook for Leonard too. If he can be productive with Westbrook, then he’s going to be just fine in Clipper land.

The Clippers are the far better team. Maybe it doesn’t show in the regular season? The regular season has become the preseason in the NFL anyway. In terms of winning a championship, the Clippers should be the favorites. The Lakers are maybe 4th or 5th best case?