The drama in Philadelphia is finally resolved, and James Harden got his wish of joining the Los Angeles Clippers. The latest NBA blockbuster trade sends James Harden, P.J. Tucker, and Filip Petrusev to LA. In return, the 76ers get Nicolas Batam, Marcus Morris, Robert Covington, KJ Martin, and several draft picks.
With that move, the Clippers add a 10-time All-Star and the latest league leader in assists to a team that already features Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Russell Westbrook.
This means that the West now has another superstar in a conference that is already very star-studded between the Warriors’ dynasty core and Chris Paul, the Suns’ big three, the Clippers’ other stars, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and Nikola Jokic.
At first glance, this might give off the idea that the playoff race in the West just got even tougher, but here are three reasons the Kings can still be better than the Clippers after the Harden trade.
Reason #3: The Kings are a young and deep team
The Clippers undeniably have more star power than the Kings, but all four of them are past their prime. Leonard and George are barely ever healthy anymore, Westbrook just came off his lowest-scoring season since his rookie campaign, and Harden hasn’t played more than 70 games since 2018-19.
Every single one of them can still win you a game, however. While they are not as good as they used to be, they are still better than many players out there. The question is just whether the Clippers’ four stars can play enough for the team to beat out other Western Conference contenders.
So far, the Clippers had 10 players averaged between 15 and 33 minutes per game this season. Out of those 10 players only Ivica Zubac, Bones Hyland, and Kenyon Martin Jr. are under the age of 30 and the latter is now a 76er.
Injuries and age are the Clippers’ biggest enemies at this point, and they will have to figure out how to toe the line between keeping their stars healthy for the postseason and winning enough regular season games to get there and be in a good position.
The Kings, on the other hand, have a 15-man-roster that features only three players age 30 or older: Alex Len, Harrison Barnes, and JaVale McGee. Out of these three, McGee is a backup, Len only plays limited minutes, and Barnes didn’t miss a single game last season.
The rest of the main rotation is between 23 and 28, meaning they are either in their athletic prime or filled with youthful energy and resilience. This mix of veteran leadership, depth, and young bodies could give the Kings a significant edge over several contenders in the West, but especially over the Clippers.