For nearly fifty years the Los Angeles Clippers have been the laughing-stock of the NBA known more for punch lines than wins the Staple Center’s lesser known franchise has finally built a team that their fans can be proud of. On Christmas fans were treated to a NBA marathon showcasing the league’s best and brightest may have missed the last game on the docket featuring the team with the NBA’s best record, the Los Angeles Clippers.
The days of taking a back seat to the Lakers may b e over after Laker great Magic Johnson referred to the in-town rival Clippers as showtime and LA’s best chance of winning a NBA title. Although this may have been a dagger in the heart of Laker fans it should be indicator to fans and pundits alike that viewing these Clippers as just as a lob-city Sportcenter highlight would be a grave oversight because these Clippers appear to be here to stay.
The Clippers back-court is led by premiere point guard Chris Paul and three-point marksmen William Green. Although their back-court is tremendously undersized they make up for their defensive liability with quickness and toughness which is why Eric Bledsoe and Chris Paul both rank top five in the league in steals per game. The arsenal in their back-court is also bolstered by NBA Finals MVP Chauncey Billups who is recovering from off-season surgery and former 6th Man of the Year Jamal Crawford who is liable to score 25 points on any night.
Although the Clippers collection of guards are impressive to continued improvement reigning 2012 NBA Dunk Champion Blake Griffin has been encouraging. Due to being injured during a tryout for the Olympic Team Blake spent his summer shooting jumpers and free throws while he recovered from minor knee surgery. During his breakout season last year Blake posterized nearly every big man in the NBA, even the elite big men were not immune from his dunks. Despite making endless highlight reels his offensive limitations and lack of rebounding became a huge liability during the playoffs. His partner in crime De’Andre Jordan has continued to improve nearly averaging a double-double (9.2 pts 7 rebs) and being a defensive juggernaut down low in the point.
However, as with most title contenders the fate of the Clippers banner hopes may rest with the production they get from their bench. The production of their guards leave very little to question but their lack of depth in the front court may become a tremendous liability. When the starting forwards (Blake Griffin & Caron Butler) and center (De’Andre Jordan) need a breather or get into foul trouble veterans Lamar Odom, Ronny Turiaf, and Matt Barnes so far have provided very little production.
A lot can change during an 82-game season and although the Lakers continue to be the talk of the town even with a losing record (15-16) another deep playoff run by the Clippers will silence the critics once and for all. As long as Chris Paul avoids the injury bug and the Clippers big men avoid foul trouble at all cost at season’s end they certainly will be in the discussion with the other preeminent title favorites. I can not wait to witness what the future has in store. Stay tuned… I know I will – A. Denmark