Welcome back to the Sports Script, and another NBA preview, as we inch our way closer to the start of the NBA season. Yesterday we had the Chicago Bulls covered, so make sure you give that read before delving into this one. Today we had the team with maybe the best offseason off any team in the NBA, and resigned their superstar to a long-term deal. Let’s talk about the Los Angeles Clippers.
Key Additions: J.J. Redick (Traded via Bucks) Jared Dudley (Traded via Suns) Darren Collison (Signed via Mavericks) Antawn Jamison (Signed via Lakers) Byron Mullens (Signed via Bobcats) Reggie Bullock (Draft) Doc Rivers (Traded via Celtics)
Key Departures: Eric Bledsoe (Suns) Caron Butler (Bucks) Chauncey Billups (Pistons) Ronny Turiaf (Grizzlies) Grant Hill (Retired)
Projected Starters: PG Chris Paul, SG JJ Redick, SF Jared Dudley, PF Blake Griffin, C DeAndre Jordan
I love the Clippers offseason so damn much. They added JJ Redick, a guy who just happens to be one of the very best shooters in the NBA. They brought in Jared Dudley in that same trade with the Bucks and Suns, a player capable of hitting threes, and playing very good defense. Darren Collison was signed from the Mavs, and while he wasn’t able to make it as a starting point guard, he is a more than qualified back up. Antwan Jamison hopefully has just a little bit left in the tank at this point, but he can provide at least a bit of offense in a pinch. Byron Mullens isn’t a half bad big man, so long as he decides to stay away from the three-point line. Reggie Bullock was picked later in the draft, and while he doesn’t have a complete skill set to be a starting guard in this league, he’s another very capable shooter to stick in the corner. The biggest move of all might have been the addition of head coach Doc Rivers, who came from Boston. Rivers is a very good coach, and is able to get the most out of all his players, so I expect a huge year from Blake Griffin, someone who stagnated in terms of progression under Vinny Del Negro. Awesome summer for the Clippers.
Looking at the starting lineup, and there really isn’t much star power on the team outside of Paul and Griffin, but this is a very good thing for the Clippers. They have so much depth, and will have almost no infighting among each other, I think the lack of true starters, or big names on the starting lineup will be made up with great team play. Chris Paul is the best point guard in the NBA bar none. No question at this point. He makes everyone around him so much better, only topped by Steve Nash in his MVP days in Phoenix. JJ Redick is a one-dimensional player, but that’s fine, because when you’re as good as he is at shooting, you don’t need much else to be a great, quality player in the NBA. Jared Dudley brings excellent shooting and defense, and the guy behind him on the depth chart, MAtt Barnes does the same stuff at very good level as well. That’s some awesome depth there. Blake Griffin has almost levelled off in terms of his production, but like I said above, should only get better under a coach the caliber of Doc Rivers. He’s a dynamic player on offense, and isn’t as bad at creating his shot as people think. Paul will get him easy shots, and those shooters on the wings, will help open things up in the paint for him to work. The real question of this team lies in DeAndre Jordan. Can he be the franchise centre for the Clippers? I don’t think he can, and his limits as a player on offense, and god awful free throw shooting will be the real killer of this team. Teams will attack Jordan on defense, and show him no respect as an all around player, or at least the smart ones will.
I asked our Ricky Valero to give us some thoughts on what he thinks the Clippers are going to do this season.
With the addition of Doc Rivers, it brings a Championship like attitude to a team that I think lacked just that last season. This is one of the most talented teams in all the NBA but can’t seem to get things together when the time is right. Rivers alone gives them a shot at competing for the top seed in the Western Conference. The loss of Eric Bledsoe is tough but the addition of Redick and Dudley, this team still has the depth to make some moves. I look for the Clippers to challenge for the #1 seed but falling short of it by finishing behind the Spurs and the Grizzlies. But I do like for them to win the Western Conference and make it to the NBA Finals.
This is a very good team, and like a bunch of other West teams, they loaded up big time this offseason. The depth is something that all good championship teams have, and the Clippers might have the NBA’s very best bench. This is a team that emphasizes team ball, instead of individual success, and that’s why Rivers was brought in. He can get the most out of all these role players, and make this team a true contender.
Final Predictions: 54-28, 4th Western Conference