- NBA Rank: 5
Conference Rank: 4
- Los Angeles Clippers
It's so simple to be wise. Just think of something stupid to say and say the opposite.Sam Levenson
For as long as I can remember the Clippers have been synonymous with bad . It turns out there's a simple cure for this: get good players. Since getting Chris Paul and a healthy Blake Griffin the Clippers have been a strong team. Paul and Griffin are back, and a combination of good moves to offset their questionable moves means the Clippers will remain in the hunt next season.
When the league decided that the Lakers weren't allowed to get Chris Paul, the Clippers fate changed. The Clippers had never won more than 60% of their games and they hadn't made it to the playoffs in consecutive seasons in twenty years. That all changed when CP3 came to town. Last season, CP3 did CP3 things, Blake Griffin got better with age, and the Clippers stole yet another key player from the Lakers in Matt Barnes. Throw in an underrated DeAndre Jordan, and you have a contender.
Even with the West being brutally tough, the Clippers made franchise history by winning 56 games in the regular season. In the west though, being a strong regular season team or even a contender isn't a guarantee of playoff success.
Particularly if Vinnie del Negro was your head coach.
|Caron Butler ||1879||33||.032||1.2|
|Eric Bledsoe ||1553||24||.165||5.3|
|Ronny Turiaf ||701||31||.055||.8|
|Chauncey Billups ||418||37||.127||1.1|
Indicates that the player is no longer with the team.
Last year, the Clippers hoped that Lamar Odom's stint with the Mavericks was an anomaly, and that he would be the piece to bring them over the top, but he remained a shadow of the player that helped the Lakers win their recent titles. Bledsoe had an emergence, but since he plays the same position as Chris Paul, it didn't help as much as it could have (we did mention Vinnie del Negro was their coach right?). Caron Butler and Jamal Crawford continued to be a big problem on the wings. Crawford has always been overrated because of his flashy ballhandling (I have to keep reminding people that the pretty baskets don't count any more points than the ugly ones), and Butler was a classic Clipper signing - a $24 million contract for a 32-year old coming off a bad injury? Sheer folly.
|Jared Dudley ||2.8||2382||28||.160||7.9|
|J.J. Redick ||1.9||2199||29||.103||4.7|
|Antawn Jamison ||4.1||1137||37||-.033||-.8|
|Darren Collison ||1.0||930||26||.134||2.6|
|Byron Mullens ||4.5||754||24||-.058||-.9|
|Reggie Bullock ||3.0||374||22||.072||.6|
|Louis Amundson ||1.0||372||30||.061||.5|
|Glen Rice ||3.0||278||23||.055||.3|
|Brandon Davies ||5.0||265||22||.017||.1|
Indicates that the player is new to the team.
The Clippers made sure to avoid a Dwightmare or a Decision by resigning Chris Paul, and in doing so, they remained a contender. But did they improve? The answer is mixed. They managed to fleece the Suns for Jared Dudley, and also snagged Redick. They had to give up Bledsoe, but as he was both a backup player and likely to be overvalued on the open market, this was wise. They handled the loss of Bledsoe by grabbing Darren Collison. Holy cow, these moves looked savvy and smart. Early on, I was convinced the Clippers would be the easy favorites.
Then Dwight went to Houston. The Clippers also decided to act like their old selves. For whatever reason, the Clippers added the ancient Antawn Jamison and the terrible Byron Mullens to their roster. This has created a situation where the Clippers now have enough bad players on their roster getting minutes, that their ranking drops. As long As CP3, Griffin and Jordan get a lion's share of the minutes they'll be fine, of course, but giving backup minutes to scrub players when the top of the west is as strong as it is? Well, it could cost the Clippers valuable playoff seeds and see them go home early again.
Playoff Rotation: Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Jared Dudley, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Matt Barnes. Run and hide, run and hide!
The Clippers have one of the scariest playoff rotations in basketball right now. Chris Paul means this team is always in it. However, the Clippers are still the Clippers. They still have terrible players on their team. Crawford, Jamison and Mullens will cost the Clipps a few games this season, count on it. Let's just hope it's not in the playoffs.
Second Opinion Patrick's Take
Crawford is indeed the big problem here. It's unlikely that Doc is going to place a lot of trust in Darren Collison, which means Crawford will get too many minutes at the one or two. Also, this team has a lot of firepower and depth on the wing between Barnes, Reddick and Dudley, but is woefully thin on the front line. It's already a concern during the regular season that guys like Mullens and Jamison will get minutes, and if Griffin or Jordan have any injuries, that will have a serious impact.
I expect the Clippers to do well but I think that the Spurs, Grizzlies and Rockets are all slightly better teams, so I think the 4 seed is spot on. Of course, in a 7-game playoff series, the best team doesn't always win, so L.A. fans shouldn't be too worried about that.