The Los Angeles Clippers never could make their “Big Three” of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan work, and the 2017-18 NBA Season has been quite a change for Doc Rivers.
After dealing Paul for Lou Williams, Patrick Beverley, Montrezl Harrell, and Sam Dekker, the Clippers clearly elected to restructure instead of truly rebuild. They also went out and signed a pure scorer in Danilo Gallinari, who, like Williams, takes a ton of scoring pressure (in theory) off Griffin.
Of course, there’s Jordan, a rebounding machine and athletic spectacle, but not someone who is terribly reliable on offense or from the line. Then, we have Austin Rivers, a player who has seen far more minutes on this Clippers team under his father than he likely would have elsewhere.
All in all, the Clippers appear much less promising now than in years past. It’s far too early to tell if the Clippers’ brief reign over LA basketball will come to a close with the Lakers’ Lonzo Ball era. Still, from a DFS perspective, there is plenty to love here, even with injuries. Let’s take a closer look.
Los Angeles Clippers Top Options
Blake Griffin – PF/C
Even with all his injury troubles, Griffin has had just one truly bad DFS performance, 26.75 DK points against the Warriors back in October. His increased shooting certainly helps, taking the most field goal attempts per game than in any season in the former Oklahoma Sooner’s NBA career. He’s also seen an uptick in points scored, assists, and free throw percentage. While it’s hard to link all those increases to Paul’s departure, it’s clear Griffin is at least attempting to take on more accountability in this offense.
One notable career high is Griffin’s three point attempts this season. In just 20 games, Griffin surpassed his career high for 3PA in a season (119 attempts vs. 113 attempts in 61 games last season). He’s averaging nearly six attempts from deep per game, giving him upside he never had prior. He’s also converting those attempts at a 35-percent clip. Griffin is the first Clipper you should be looking at in tournaments and Cash lineups.
DeAndre Jordan – C
Jordan has long been a fierce frontcourt presence due to his sheer size and physique, but his lack of finesse and precision has hindered his ability to elevate to elite status. Still, he’s a top option on this shallow, injury-riddled Clippers squad. For the fourth consecutive season, Jordan is averaging a double-double per game, which gives him instant appeal on DraftKings, specifically in Cash where that double-double bonus is a significant bump. He’s also averaging over 15 rebounds per game this season, his highest rebounding average in his 10 years with the Clippers.
Like Griffin, Jordan has had to do more without Paul to open up passing lanes and feed the frontcourt. That gives him a great floor in DFS, where his limited scoring upside is somewhat offset by his massive rebounding totals. While his blocks are down this season, he’s always been a dynamic rim protector. That athleticism gives him additional upside if you’re looking his way in tournaments.
Lou Williams – PG/SG
While injuries to Patrick Beverley and Danilo Gallinari weren’t enough to turn Williams into a starter (since, you know, he can’t seem to figure out how to play with the top unit anywhere), Williams has once again been a dominant scorer off the bench. He’s always a Sixth Man of the Year candidate, and this year is no different.
The veteran guard, for the first time in his career, is averaging over 20 points per game. He has been the lone stable Clippers option for DFS players. When the season started, no one would’ve picked Williams as a core Cash option night in and night out, but he is. His scoring upside (30+ real-life points six times in the first 33 games of the season) makes him an ever-appealing tournament play as well.
Austin Rivers – PG/SG
Rivers is fortunate to have his father as a head coach. The former Duke Blue Devil has spent the past few seasons attempting to develop his raw game under Doc, and he’s actually come quite a long ways. This season, without Paul at the point, Rivers is averaging real minutes (32 per game) and averaging almost 14 shots per night. While his field goal percentage is just 41 percent, he’s shooting just above 40 percent from 3-point land. Still, even in Paul’s absence, assists prove to be a weak category in Rivers’ game.
But the important thing is opportunity, and Rivers gets quite a bit of it. And he’s flashed upside at times, dropping 48.75 DraftKings points against the Memphis Grizzlies and 54 DK points against the Houston Rockets in December, along with five 30+ DK point performances in November. His upside gives him tournament appeal, while he’s a bit shaky for Cash. Even with all his minutes, Rivers still carries plenty of risk, as he’s more than capable of having off-nights. But those additional minutes, coupled with all the injuries to the starting lineup, give Rivers definitive appeal in tournaments.
Danilo Gallinari – SF/PF
He’s struggled with injury all season, but Gallinari is a consistently interesting tournament option in DFS given his sheer ability to score. The veteran is capable of taking on a usage rate in the 30 percent range. That was apparent in his final game of 2017 before heading back to the injury report. In that game, against the Washington Wizards, Gallinari scored 25 real-life points. With a DFS salary usually in the $5.5K to $6.5K range, Gallinari is a high-upside option, especially when teammates are held out of action.
Still, the injury issues loom large. His place in this Clippers rotation is unclear, mostly because he only played 11 games in the first three months of the season. Pick your spots with Gallinari (e.g., if Rivers is out, Gallinari will see more run; if DeAndre Jordan is out, Galllinari takes on an expanded role in a faster offense). But err on the side of caution — the former Denver Nugget will almost certainly not be on your shortlist most nights.
Montrezl Harrell – PF/C
Harrell isn’t really an option unless the Clippers’ frontcourt sustains an injury, specifically to Blake Griffin. Harrell is negatively correlated to Griffin, moreso than any other player on the Clippers. That makes things pretty simple: is Griffin out? No? Then, Harrell is very likely not an option. But if Griffin sits, he should pop up as a great value option.
Wesley Johnson – SG/SF
Like Harrell, Wesley Johnson’s DFS value is contingent on injuries to better players. With Gallinari missing so much time, Johnson has shown off 40+ fantasy point upside. Still, that upside very rarely comes out in the stat sheet, even if minutes are there. Johnson isn’t really an option most nights, but he is capable if given starter minutes and additional scoring responsibilities. That means Griffin and Gallinari really need to be out for Johnson to have scoring upside.
Milos Teodosic – PG
Milos Teodosic made his NBA debut this season at the age of 30. He’s been a very pleasant surprise for the Clippers. In 11 games played over the first three months of the season, Teodosic managed 20 fantasy points in six of them, including three with a score of 28.5 or more. He does lack upside, but if Teodosic’s salary drops to the $4K range, he is an intriguing option. He has also been better with Griffin off the court. He and the frontcourt duo of Jordan and Harrell have found success.
Sindarius Thornwell – SG
Sindarius Thornwell has seen minutes this season, but his game is too raw. Thornwell should be well off your radar for the remainder of the season, barring an absurd increase in minutes.
Jawun Evans – PG
Jawun Evans, like Thornwell, is a raw talent, but the rookie has found success this season. Still, like Thornwell, he really doesn’t see real minutes unless plenty of Clippers backcourt members sit. He’ll be off your radar far more often than not.
Sam Dekker – SF/PF
The former Houston Rocket hasn’t been able to put it together in LA. There’s no reason to believe he’ll figure it out at any point this season. Barring a big trade (ahem, DeAndre Jordan) and a bigger injury (specifically to Blake Griffin), I see no path for Sam Dekker into the DFS conversation.
C.J. Williams – SG
Low salary, lower upside. C.J. Williams doesn’t get your lineup where you need it to be, unless you’re comfortable with a true punt. But I can’t imagine, even in a scenario where you need to punt, that you can’t do better than Williams. He is basically locked into the teens in terms of fantasy point production.
Jamil Wilson – SF
Along with the rest of the guys in the tertiary tier, Jamil Wilson has no upside. Actually, he is still moving back and forth between the G-League to the NBA. Nothing really to see here, but he’s obviously a low-cost option if injuries ramp back up at the SF position.
Willie Reed – C
Willie Reed hasn’t offered much this season, and Doc Rivers gives him almost no playing time. A DeAndre Jordan trade that doesn’t net the Clippers a center in return would open up time for Reed, but that’s about it.
The Clippers are past a brief stint as true Western Conference contenders. Injuries this season have been a big reason why. Without Patrick Beverley for the remainder of the season, and with consistent injuries to Gallinari, Griffin, Rivers, Johnson, and others, they haven’t exactly had a chance to mesh with so many new faces in town.
While 2017-18 may be a lost cause for the Clippers (at least in terms of a championship), there’s DFS goodness here. The likes of Griffin and Jordan in the frontcourt are consistently interesting DFS options. Meanwhile, Lou Williams has become, and should continue to be, a staple in Cash and tournament lineups. As for Rivers (Austin, not Doc), he’s coming along nicely, if only because he’s seeing a ridiculous amount of playing time. Then, there’s Gallinari, who might get healthy at some point this season.
In short, there are plenty of scorers on this team, as well as an elite center. But buyer beware; the Clippers haven’t been a particularly dependable roster outside its top tier.