Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers’ breakout player will be…

The Clippers have their two brand-new superstars, but there’s a legitimate question as to who from the existing ensemble will be the team’s third-best player this season. Patrick Beverley will have a major role to play, and Lou Williams has been the Clippers’ most lethal offensive option for the last two years–but the smart money is on Montrezl Harrell, the Clippers’ best big man in a relatively pedestrian frontcourt. With a famously high motor and an expanding skill set, the 25-year-old Harrell will hope to contribute at both PF and C this season and land a massive contract next summer.

It all goes wrong if…

If Paul George and Kawhi Leonard can’t stay on the court, the Clippers will disappoint. They won 48 games without them last season–no small feat–but in order to add those two this summer, the Clippers had to part ways with their prize starting point guard, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and their best player, Danilo Gallinari. The Clippers have remarkable depth to handle load management, but they don’t have the top-level talent to endure games when both of their star wings are out.

What we’ll be saying about the Clippers at the end of the season…

The Clippers probably won’t have the best regular-season record in the league this year, as Paul George misses time to start the season and Kawhi Leonard paces himself throughout the year. But that means they’ll have plenty of opportunities to exhibit their depth, and as we head into the playoffs, the conversation will be focused around how the Clippers’ talent and versatility makes them the favorite in any playoff series.

Final prediction

The over/under for the Clippers this season is 56.5 wins, and I’m inclined to think that with relatively good health for Leonard and George, they’ll exceed that number–though not by as much as they could if they went all-out for the #1 seed. Their league-best depth will keep them afloat through the load management portions of the schedule, and the Clippers will be well positioned to accomplish their actual goal: their first-ever NBA Championship.

Final prediction: 58-24

Lucas Hann (@LucasJHann)