LA Clippers guard James Harden (1) dribbles the ball against New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) on the Clippers In-Season Tournament logo at mid-court in the first half at Arena. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Clippers may be considered the Los Angeles Lakers’ little brother, so to speak, but recently they’ve held their own as a legitimate contender in the Western Conference. While not full of championships, they’ve compiled a history that includes a lot of talented players and iconic moments, from their days as the Buffalo Braves, San Diego Clippers, and now in Los Angeles.

Some of the biggest names in basketball started their careers in Los Angeles with the Clippers. Although many of them moved on to play elsewhere, they remain a huge part of this franchise’s history.

Here are the 10 best Los Angeles Clippers of all time.

10. World B. Free, shooting guard

World B Free, also known as Leonard Bernard Free, played for several teams throughout his career but he had several productive seasons with the San Diego Clippers. During the 1978 season, Free was battling George Gervin for the scoring title. His best season, however, was the following one. He averaged 30.2 points, as well as 4.2 assists per game and 3.5 rebounds. per game in 68 contests. He was an All-Star that season as well, although the Clippers failed to make the playoffs. He was traded to the Golden State Warriors after that. Free would end his NBA career with nearly 20,000 points, averaging 20.3 points a game.

9. Randy Smith, shooting guard

Randy Smith was the face of the Buffalo Braves and San Diego Clippers during the 1970s. A two-time NBA All-Star and All-Star Game MVP in 1978, Smith scored 27 points for the Western Conference in that fame. While with the Braves/Clippers, Smith averaged 20 points a game for four consecutive seasons and was named All-NBA Second Team in 1976. Bob McAdoo said that Smith was one of the greatest players he has ever played with, putting him in the same category as Magic Johnson and Kareem Adul-Jabbar.

8. Danny Manning, forward

After winning a national championship with the Kansas Jayhawks, the Clippers made Danny Manning the No. 1 overall pick of the 1988 NBA Draft. Although injuries hampered Manning’s career, his most successful year came in the ’92-93 season when he averaged 22.8 points a game and was selected to play in the All-Star Game. He also was selected as an All-Star the following season. Manning, who spent six seasons with the Clippers, ended his NBA career averaging 14 points and five rebounds per game.

7. Paul George, small forward

Along with Kawhi Leonard, Paul George is trying to help lead the Clippers to the promised land. Paul is an eight-time All-Star, was named NBA’s Most Improved Player in 2013, and was the NBA’s steal leader in 2019. George is also a defensive specialist, making the NBA’s first and second team All-Defenvise Team four times.  He and Kawhi Leonard became the first duo in Clippers history to each score 40 points in a single game. Paul did help lead the Clippers to the Western Conference Finals in the 2020-21 season.

6. Kawhi Leonard, small forward

Kawhi Leonard hasn’t been with the Clippers for too long and injuries have hampered his play, but he’s already made an impressive mark. He came to Los Angeles after leading the Toronto Raptors to an NBA title and the hope is that he can bring one to the Clippers as well. In his time with LA, Leonard has been named All-NBA Second Team (2020), All-NBA First Team (2021) and was the NBA All-Star Game MVP in 2020. The Clippers have been in the NBA Finals hunt since Leonard arrived, and if he can take them there for the first time, he’ll rocket up this list.

5. Elton Brand, power forward/center

After two seasons with the Chicago Bulls, Elton Brand was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in 2001. In 2022, he became the first Clippers player to be selected to the All-Star team since Manning in 1994, so expectations were high. He went on to have a very successful stint with LA, averaging 20 points per game or more in four consecutive seasons. His best year came in 2006 when he averaged a career-best 2.47 ppg and led the Clips to the Western Conference Semifinals. He was named All-NBA Second Team and an All-Star, too. After seven seasons with the team, he left to sign with the Philadelphia 76ers, but he certainly made his mark with the Clippers.

4. DeAndre Jordan, center

DeAndre Jordan spent ten seasons with the Clippers where he honed his reputation as a defensive whiz. Jordan is a three-time All-NBA and two-time NBA All-Defensive Team member and has twice led the league in rebounding. He is still the Clippers’ all-time leader in games played, rebounds, and blocks. Jordan also holds the NBA record for highest shooting percentage at 67.5 percent. On top of that, Jordan won a gold medal with the U.S. Olympic Basketball team in 2016.

3. Chris Paul, point guard

Although Chris Paul has played for several NBA teams, he is perhaps best known for his time with the Clippers. When Paul left New Orleans, he was supposed to be traded to the LA Lakers, but the deal fell through and he ended up in a Clippers uniform. Paul, along with Blake Griffin, put the Clippers on the map and they weren’t playing second banana to the Lakers for a time. Paul finished his first year with the Clippers averaging 19.8 points, 9.1 assists, and 2.5 steals per game. He also became the first Clipper to be named to the All-NBA First Team since the franchise moved to Los Angeles. Paul is a 12-time All-Star, All-Star MVP, NBA Rookie of the Year, five-time NBA assists leader, six-time NBA steals leader, and was part of the NBA’s 75th Anniversary team.

2. Bob McAdoo, center

Bob McAdoo began his NBA career with the Buffalo Braves and he set the tone for the franchise in the decades ahead. Named Rookie of the Year in his first season, he hit the ground running. In his third season, he scored 34.5 points per game and was named NBA MVP. In 334 games with Buffalo, McAdoo averaged 28.2 points, 12.7 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.4 blocks and 1.1 steals. The five-time All-Star was also a three-time NBA scoring champion and two-time NBA champion with Los Angeles Lakers. A member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team, McAdoo is enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

1. Blake Griffin center/forward

With due respect to McAdoo, Blake Griffin might be the most decorated player who ever played for the franchise. Griffin was with the team for 11 years and, during that time, he was a six-time All-Star, NBA Rookie of the Year, and Slam Dunk Champion. He became the first rookie to have two 40+ point games since Allen Iverson and Sports Illustrated listed Griffin as one of the “NBA’s 15 Greatest Rookies of All Time.” Griffin helped lead the Clippers to their first Pacific Divisional title in franchise history, averaging 18 points and eight rebounds that season. A six-time NBA All-Star, two-time All-NBA Third Teamer, and three-time All-NBA Second Teamer, he accomplished the most of anyone on this list while wearing the Clippers uniform.

About Stacey Mickles

Stacey is a 1995 graduate of the University of Alabama who has previously worked for other publications such as Sportskeeda and Saturday Down South.