Last season, with the Clippers out of the playoffs, I decided it would be fun to keep tabs on all of the former Clippers in the NBA Playoffs. While the Clippers made it again this year, I figured that after their early exit, why not take another look? Once a Clipper, always a Clipper, right? Well, maybe. Let’s take a look at where some of our former friends are thriving (even the ones who Clipper Nation isn’t so fond of anymore). After looking at how everyone did in the first round earlier this week, let’s check in on how the second round is going.
East: 5. New York Knicks vs 8. Miami Heat (Tied 1-1)
The Heat lack former Clippers, but the Knicks have notable recent Clipper Isaiah Hartenstein in a significant role in this series. The Knicks were successful (+6) in a smaller, quieter Hartenstein outing (14 minutes, 2 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block) in their game 1 loss, while they played his minutes even in a much more impactful game 2 win (26 minutes, 3 points, 9 rebounds–4 offensive–1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block). Frankly, I don’t love the Knicks’ chances of getting past the Heat, but if Jimmy Butler (who didn’t play in game 2 with an ankle injury) remains out, it’s a completely different series. Either way, I’ll be wistfully cheering for Hart to be impactful in New York’s upcoming games.
East: 2. Boston Celtics vs 3. Philadelphia 76ers (Tied 1-1)
Boston: Clipper legend Blake Griffin has yet to appear for Boston in this series, though I think he’s considered a legitimate depth option ahead of Mike Muscala and Luke Kornet despite staying on the bench as those two guys got garbage time run in Boston’s 34-point game 2 blowout win. Muscala is one of the most notable barely-former-Clippers of recent memory (he was part of the Tobias Harris trade, and then re-traded for Ivica Zubac before playing a game in a hilarious fleecing of the Lakers), and more notable former Clipper Danilo Gallinari remains sidelined while attempting a mid-playoff return from an ACL injury suffered last summer. He won’t appear in these rankings until/unless he is actually activated for a Celtics playoff game.
Sixers: I’m probably inclined to give Doc Rivers more credit for Philly’s game 1 win in Boston without Joel Embiid than their game 2 blowout loss with him–after all, getting the split in Boston is the goal, and doing it with Joel missing one game and limited in the other is significant. Margin of victory(/defeat) doesn’t matter in the playoffs. Former Clipper forward Tobias Harris continues to be an efficient support scorer for this Sixers squad, averaging 17 points and 6 rebounds on 54/40 shooting splits in the first two games of the series. Meanwhile, Clippers fans might be interested to learn that joining Blake Griffin and Danilo Gallinari as the only playoff-eligible Celtics to not appear in this series is former Clippers center Montrezl Harrell as the only playoff-eligible Sixer who hasn’t seen the floor for Doc Rivers yet. Starting Paul Reed over Trez with Embiid was uncontroversial. Playing small on the 2nd unit behind Reed, and then going to Dewayne Dedmon over Trez in garbage time in game 2, suggests that the former Clipper center may be far removed from the former Clipper coach’s plans in this postseason.
West: 1. Denver Nuggets vs 4. Phoenix Suns (Nuggets lead 2-0)
Nuggets: Look, I want Denver to beat the Suns anyway, but I would really like it if former Clippers postseason hero Reggie Jackson had a moment for the Nuggets in this run. Right now, he finds himself outside of the rotation, grabbing just 3 minutes of garbage time in Denver’s game 1 blowout win in this series. Joining him on the deep bench is Clipper legend DeAndre Jordan, who has yet to appear in the second round. Meanwhile, forgettable former Clipper Jeff Green remains the low point of Michael Malone’s 8-man playoff rotation, playing consistent backup forward minutes while shooting the ball incredibly poorly as the Nuggets hurtle toward the conference finals.
Suns: Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Chris Paul is going to miss games in the second round with a groin injury. It’s a devastatingly predictable blow to (in my opinion) the greatest player in Clippers franchise history, though his lackluster play through 2 games (9.5 points and 5.5 assists on 43/20 shooting splits) wasn’t doing his Suns squad any favors. The Suns could turn to former Clipper marksman Landry Shamet for support in Paul’s absence, but it’s unclear if they actually will as Monty Williams continues to cycle through players 5-14 on his roster at an unbelievable rate. Shamet was the Suns’ 6th man to start the playoffs vs the Clippers, played short 1st half shifts while being replaced for the 2nd half late in the Clippers series, was 7th in minutes (with 14) as the Suns went 13-deep in game 1 vs Denver, and then didn’t play in game 2. He could start and play 30+ or DNP in game 3 and I wouldn’t be surprised.
West: 6. Golden State Warriors vs 7. Los Angeles Lakers (Tied 1-1)
Warriors: Remember when I said I wouldn’t rule out JaMyke cameos? How about this: in an attempt to stretch the Laker defense with another corner shooter, JaMychal Green not only played but started game 2 of this series. He played just 13 minutes, but did his job, scoring 15 points and hitting 3 threes as the Warriors routed the Lakers to even the series.
Lakers: The only former Clipper on the crosstown rivals is Wenyen Gabriel, who hasn’t had much to do so far in this series. He’s only playing when Anthony Davis sits, and it turns out that that doesn’t mean very many meaningful minutes in a tightly-contested playoff series against the defending champs. Wenyen played 4 uneventful first-half minutes in the Lakers’ game 1 win before Davis played the entire second half, and then caught just 3 minutes in LAL’s blowout game 2 loss. I wouldn’t bet on seeing much of him going forward unless Davis gets hurt or in foul trouble.
FCIT2023NBAPPR (Former Clippers In The 2023 NBA Playoffs Power Rankings)
(A purely subjective, mixed-criteria list where I rank former the former Clippers who have played in this year’s playoffs on a combination of how well they’re playing in this year’s playoffs–the most important factor–and their role, team success, importance to Clipper history, and how much I like them.)
- Tobias Harris (Preview: 1; steady and efficient in a way no other candidate has been)
- JaMychal Green (Previous: 13; it turns out that this is a weak enough bunch where 1 solid game can catapault you up)
- Doc Rivers (Previous: 2; game 2’s blowout looks bad but can be easily forgiven if they win this series)
- Isaiah Hartenstein (Previous: 4; he impacted a 2nd round win and has a chance to keep contributing)
- Chris Paul (Previous: 3; sadly, I fear we’ve seen the last of him in this run)
- Luke Kennard (Previous: 5; he’s out, but was effective in his role)
- Jeff Green (Previous: 6; he’s winning & playing consistently, but needs to play better to get more love here)
- Austin Rivers (Previous: 7; he didn’t get many chances but helped his team get his only playoff win before getting eliminated)
- Landry Shamet (Previous: 8; I guess he’s the most likely guy left to impact games going forward, but Phoenix might be better off looking to other options)
- Blake Griffin (Previous: 10; based on Clippers history importance, I’ll need give Blake the tiebreaker over the other non-impact/non-rotation guys listed below)
- Wenyen Gabriel (Previous: 9; he has a better chance to play meaningful minutes than the guys beneath him)
- Reggie Jackson (Previous: 14; this is a guess, but I think Denver might look for an extra guard before an extra big…)
- DeAndre Jordan (Previous: 11; …but if Jokic picks up foul trouble, a DJ shift could be series-deciding for them)
- Montrezl Harrell (Previous: 12; Doc Rivers doesn’t trust Montrezl Harrell in the playoffs, even when his starting center is hurt and he has to play smallball instead. That should tell you all you need to know)
As far as I can tell, that’s it for former Clippers in the 2022 NBA Playoffs! Did I miss anyone who should be included in the next roundup? Who are you rooting for, and who are you rooting against? Is there anyone who you are most excited to follow over the coming weeks?