The LA Clippers may have suffered a disappointing end to their 2020 campaign, but that isn't lowering their expectations for next season whatsoever.
Per the Caesars Sportsbook, the Clippers (+400) are among those favored to win the 2021 NBA title, ranking only behind the Los Angeles Lakers (+325).
The Milwaukee Bucks (+600), Golden State Warriors (+800), Brooklyn Nets (+1000) and Boston Celtics (+1400) are near the top of the list as well.
It doesn't come as a surprise that many expect LA to be right back in the thick of things next season, and there's a good chance that the team finishes near the top of the Western Conference standings again, based on talent alone.
What's interesting, though, is how little we know about what the Clippers will look like next year.
Obviously there's the coaching question, which will presumably take another few weeks to figure out. Tyronn Lue's name keeps coming up in reports, but the Clippers tend to operate in silence. Nothing the organization has said indicates that Lue is the choice.
There are also a multitude of questions to answer in free agency, beginning with a good chunk of LA's current roster. Montrezl Harrell, Marcus Morris, JaMychal Green, Reggie Jackson and Patrick Patterson could all test the market this offseason, and the Clippers can't afford to bring them all back.
Jackson and Patterson are less important, but Harrell, Morris and Green all played a significant role this past season. There are options available to replace them (some of which we wrote about here), but those decisions could change the team's identity.
As long as the top of the roster stays intact (and that's Kawhi Leonard and Paul George), the Clippers should be in the discussion of title-contending teams. But until we figure out which role players are returning and who's coaching the unit, it seems a bit premature to have them atop the list.