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Clippers

Clippers’ reserves could be better than last season’s stellar group

Clippers players Kawhi Leonard and Paul George talk about the upcoming season.

The Clippers had the most lethal bench in the NBA last season, led by the dynamic duo of veteran guard Lou Williams and young center Montrezl Harrell.

The Clippers’ reserves led the league in bench scoring (53.2) and assists (10.8), and they were second in rebounds (20.0).

Yet as productive as they were for the Clippers during a surprising 2018-19 season that saw them reach the playoffs against long odds of that occurring, this current group of role players could potentially make L.A.’s bench even more potent.

Williams led the Clippers and all NBA reserves in scoring at 20 points per game. Harrell was third on the team in scoring and third in the league among reserves at 16.6 points per game.

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“What Trez and I did last year was very special,” Williams said Sunday at the Clippers’ media day. “But I look forward to building with this new group of guys and seeing what we can do.”

JaMychal Green re-signed with the Clippers to play his role as a backup center and power forward who can defend and stretch the floor with his shooting.

Guard Landry Shamet, who was acquired last season from the Philadelphia 76ers before the trade deadline, could come off the bench and provide a lift with his exceptional shooting. He shot 42.2% from three-point range with the Clippers and 76ers.

Forward Maurice Harkless, swingman Rodney McGruder and shooting guard Jerome Robinson also could play big roles for the Clippers off the bench.

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“I definitely think it’s still going to be the same thing, me and Lou being the head of that snake coming off the bench and leading that group,” Harrell said. “But we have a lot of guys that can definitely step in and do a lot more different things than what guys can do the previous times for us.

Clippers players Kawhi Leonard and Paul George talk about the upcoming season.

“So, I definitely think it improves us way more than it does hurting us. Like I said, we’ve got different guys that come in and give a defensive presence on the floor so we could definitely save Lou to a certain aspect on the other end of the floor. So I definitely think it’s going to help us out a lot.”

Clippers coach Doc Rivers was not made available to the media Sunday, so he couldn’t be asked about his view of his formidable bench. But Rivers knows he has a deep team after watching the front office collect more talent over the summer.

He’ll see the group together for the first time when the Clippers opening training camp Monday morning before departing later in the day for more training in Hawaii through the weekend.

“I think mentally for us, I think we should just stay in the mind-set of continuing to build, continuing to grow,” Williams said. “Having depth isn’t an issue for us. Obviously everybody is just kind of going into the season with the mentality of just putting stats and putting records and history and all of that stuff aside if it’s not for the benefit of the team.”

The Clippers’ stellar reserves were a big reason for why they took the Golden State Warriors to six games in a first-round playoff series in the spring.

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So much of that was because of Williams, who won his second consecutive sixth man of the year award, and Harrell, who came in third in the voting for the award.

“Knowing the way me and him kind of react and kind of feed off one another, it’s a good thing,” Harrell said. “But you add the pieces that we have, including the pieces that we had last year, it just grows from there really.”


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