Both teams are blessed with world-class options on the wing. The Clippers will deploy Kawhi Leonard at the three during the majority of his regular-season minutes. Look for him to bounce back after a poor ending to last season in The Bubble.
Classifying who the Lakers play at the small forward position is tricky. LeBron James handles the ball like a point guard, but he generally guards small forwards. For the purposes of this exercise, James is the player the Lakers will start on the wing.
The Clippers will back Leonard up with Morris and Luke Kennard. The Lakers will support James with Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Wesley Matthews. The backups aren’t overly important here. Leonard and James will both be on the floor whenever the stakes are high.
Leonard is still one of the best 10 players in the league, but James is still arguably the top player in the entire Association when he’s locked in. He’s a trump card for the Lakers whenever they can’t find an answer elsewhere. Leonard is talented enough to defeat James on occasion, but LeBron is going to win the majority of their individual battles. That’s enough to give the Lakers a clear advantage at the small forward position.
Edge: LeBron James gives the Lakers the win