2. The Los Angeles Lakers’ second unit is much better
I will never forget the backlash I got last year when I wrote this article for the Los Angeles Lakers. I argued that, while the Clippers had better immediate depth off the bench (in their sixth and seventh man) that the Lakers had more overall depth — a deeper rotation with more valuable guys at the end of the rotation.
I still stand by that to this day and I think that is part of the reason why the Lakers won the NBA Championship last year. This season, it is not even close. The Los Angeles Lakers’ second unit is miles better than the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Lakers signed away the Clippers’ best bench piece in Montrezl Harrell, although the Clippers replaced him with Serge Ibaka. Personally, I call that a wash. Ibaka fits what the Clippers need more than Harrell, but Harrell will be maximized, especially defensively, more in LA.
The numbers lie in Basketball-Index’s Player Impact Plus-Minus (PIPM). Trez had a 0.59 PIPM last season, Ibaka had a -0.33. For argument’s sake, I will call it a wash.
Then we can compare Dennis Schroder and Lou Williams, as they have similar roles as bench scorers. Schroder can absolutely bring the same scoring prowess as Williams and plays significantly better defense as well. Williams was one of the worst defensive guards in the league last season with a -2.32 D-PIPM. Schroder was much better with a 1.04 D-PIPM.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope/Wesley Matthews are both more proven and dynamic than Luke Kennard, Alex Caruso is miles better than Reggie Jackson (it is not even close) and as much slack as he gets, I still would rather have a tandem of Kyle Kuzma and Markieff Morris over Nicolas Batum and Patrick Patterson.
We haven’t even mentioned Talen Horton-Tucker. If — and let’s make sure we make it clear this is an if — he continues to play at his current level then he would probably be the second-best player on the Clippers’ bench because of his two-way capabilities.
The Lakers are much deeper.