After successfully acquiring Anthony Davis last summer, the Los Angeles Lakers have succeeded in transforming themselves from one of the worst NBA teams to a legitimate title contender in the deep Western Conference. As of now, Davis and LeBron James continue to wreak havoc in the 2019-20 NBA season, winning six of their last 10 games. However, despite currently sitting in the No. 1 spot in the Western Conference, the Lakers are still not considered as the heavy favorites to advance to the 2020 NBA Finals and win the 2020 NBA championship title.
In a recent debate, four out of five ESPN analysts said that the Los Angeles Clippers, not the Lakers, are the favorites to fully dominate the Western Conference this season. Though they are three wins behind the Purple and Gold, ESPN‘s Nick Friedell believes that a healthy Clippers squad led by reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard is the best team in the Western Conference.
“The Lakers have been much better through the first half of the season than I thought they would be. It’s a credit to their staff and players for making it work so quickly, but I still think the Clippers are the best team in the West when healthy. Kawhi Leonard has proved how great he is, and that team has shown it can hit a different level defensively.”
It’s definitely a surprise that the Clippers got the majority of votes from the ESPN analysts over the Lakers. When it comes to win-loss record, the Lakers are indeed better. However, on the two occasions that they met each other on the court this season, the Clippers have won and dominated the Lakers on both ends of the floor. Also, while the Lakers decided to keep their core intact in the 2019-20 NBA season, the Clippers made a major move before the 2020 February NBA trade deadline where they acquired veteran small forward Marcus Morris from the New York Knicks.
“No, the Clippers have an edge,” ESPN‘s Bobby Marks said. “Adding Marcus Morris Sr. gives Doc Rivers three 20-point scorers. Of course, the Lakers’ roster could change in the buyout market, but their lack of a primary ball handler outside of LeBron James is a concern.”
Morris would undeniably be an incredible addition to the Clippers, giving them a very reliable scoring option behind Leonard and Paul George, and a threat from beyond the arc. This season, the 30-year-old veteran small forward is averaging 19.6 points and 5.4 rebounds while shooting 44.2 percent from the field and 43.9 percent from the three-point range.
Though he’s not a superstar, the successful acquisition of Morris would definitely increase the Clippers’ chances of winning when they face the Lakers in a best-of-seven series. Aside from being an offensive weapon, ESPN‘s Tim Bontemps also thinks that Morris gives the Clippers “another big body” who could be tasked to guard James and other opposing teams’ best players.