The First Team to Chemistry Wins

By Michael Johnson

Special to the Observer

With the National Basketball Association completing its first several days of the regular season the Western Conference is already very competitive, as anticipated, and the Los Angeles Clippers, as expected are among the league leaders.

Also as expected their superstar, Kawhi Leonard, one the best all-around basketball players in the world is already putting up MVP like numbers, just like he did in last year. He's averaging nearly 30 points per game, 7.6 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game. Offensively, Leonard at 6'7", 230 pounds plays like he's a 7-footer; consistently playing in the low post, backing down bigger players and scoring over them and around them. Conversely, he simply just overpowers any opponent that's his size or smaller.

Leonard has affectionately been dubbed the "Terminator" because like the Terminator character that Arnold Schwarzenegger portrayed in the motion picture, Leonard seems at times, machine like, instead of human. He's relentless, pre-programed to wreak havoc on opposing players, has laser-like focus, no emotions and he is mission driven.

A couple of other Clipper players that deserve recognition so far this year are Lou Williams and Montrez Harrell. They were the NBA's leading scoring tandem off the bench last season, and both are at it again this season. Harrell, who has picked-up his game offensively each year since being traded to the Clippers from the Houston Rockets in 2017, continues to substantially increase his productivity. He is averaging 19.3 points per game, the third highest on the team, right behind his sharp shooting teammate Lou Williams.

Harrell is another athlete playing way bigger than he really is. Harrell plays like seven-footer even though he is listed at 6'8." He won't back down from any player in the league and is always in attack mode and leaves every ounce of energy out on the floor night in and night out. Arguably, Harrell excites the Clipper Nation as much as any player on their rooster, and he is one of the most improved players in the league over the past three seasons.

'Sweet' Lou Williams is the epitome of how basketball should be played, with skill, finesse, grace and an intangible sixth sense that cannot be taught. Williams has picked-up right where he left off last season, he hasn't missed a beat. The three-time Sixth Man of the Year is the Clippers X-Factor, particularly with the addition of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George this season. Opposing teams will have to make a choice, attempt to defend Leonard and George with double-teams and leave Williams open, and suffer the consequences, or single cover Leonard and George and suffer the consequences.

Nearly every team in the Western Conference added new players. Teams like the Clippers, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Dallas Mavericks, and the Houston Rockets, just to name a few. Historically, teams with new starters and significant roles players take time to adjust to one another, to jell, to learn each other's strength and weaknesses. If the learning curve takes too long, those teams lose games, lose ground and lose confidence.

According to coach Doc Rivers the chemistry between Williams and Harrell is already flowing right where it left off last season. The surprising chemistry Leonard has already established with Harrell, Williams and the other Clippers is exciting to watch. In the super competitive Western Conference, the first team to chemistry wins.


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