Western Conference

Clippers Contenders?

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In December of 2011, the Los Angeles Clippers made headlines by trading for arguably the best point guard in the game today in Chris Paul. This past summer they made headlines due to the Donald Sterling fiasco. And in between they have made headlines with win streaks, alley-oops, and other key acquisitions. But come playoff time they have made less noise, advancing to the conference semi-finals two out of the last three seasons but going no further.

But this could be the year things change. The West will be just as competitive as ever with most likely ten or eleven teams vying for the top eight spots. Young teams such as Golden State, Portland, and Denver have continued to develop and add good players, and veteran teams like the Dallas Mavericks and Memphis Grizzlies have added key contributors. But the only teams with the necessary talent to take on the champion Spurs are the Clippers, Thunder and the Rockets. Unfortunately for Houston and Oklahoma City fans, neither of their teams have made the moves to better themselves. But the Clippers are doing all of the right things.

When you look at their roster top to bottom, they look to be one of the best teams in the league. You have a top two point guard in Paul, a top five power forward in Blake Griffin, a defensive stud in the middle in DeAndre Jordan, and a plethora of shooters around them in J.J. Reddick, Jamal Crawford, Jared Dudley, and Matt Barnes. What this team has been lacking in the last few years was consistent play off the bench from their big men.

Although there have been some respectable names such as Antawn Jamison, Kenyon Martin, and Lamar Odom, none of these guys contributed to the team during the same season and were there at the tail ends of their career. But this year is different. Lob City retained the services of Glen Davis who averaged 9.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game last year, and signed dark-horse free agent Spencer Hawes who averaged 13.2 points and 8.3 rebounds last year for the 76ers (ESPN.com). The two will make a good tandem off the bench with their rebounding ability, size, and solid offensive games. Hawes is a seven footer who shot 41% from behind the arc, and Davis is 6’9 289lbs with good touch around the basket.

Along with these two the team has been rumored trying to sign another big man to round out the rotation. They have been in talks with Andray Blatche, Emeka Okafor, Greg Oden, and Andrew Bynum. Even if they do not get any of these players, the fact that they are still looking after signing Hawes and bringing back Davis shows that they are aware of what they need to do, and are making a strong effort to improve. With a solid frontline from the starters to the bench to go along with their shooters and star point guard, the Clippers finally have what it takes to truly contend in the West.

About Simon Shortt

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1 Comment

  1. Alfredo Rodriguez

    August 24, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    I wish I could call the Clippers contenders, but they have a flaw in the small forward spot. Doc Rivers tried various 3s in Barnes, Dudley, Granger, Jamison, Jackson and Bullock, and the results were horrid. CP3, a point guard, was forced to defend Durant.

    Given that the team failed to go after a 3, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Doc throwing the kitchen sink. The 1s, 2s and 4s will have to masquerade as the 3. Griffin could be forced to transition to the 3. Doc was hoping that one of his Big 3 guys in Pierce would come, but the Nets refused to cooperate. The only way the Clips can get a small forward now will have to be by trade, and it could cost them more than just a Crawford, Barnes or Dudley. They may be forced to give up a player they truly love such as DJ in order to upgrade that spot. Are they willing to sacrifice chemistry for a championship?

    Finally, can CP3 give up on being a superstar and commit to being a role player? His Game 5 blunders in the 2nd round against the Thunder not only had the fans questioning Paul’s ability to overcome playoff pressure, some have even scratched him off their superstar list, believing that he lost this status (especially since he’s never been to a conference finals before, and this season will be his tenth). He may be elite in the regular season player, but is he just a bad player in the playoffs? Even in the deepest team he’s ever been, he played with a fear of losing. It is said that point guard-driven teams are the easiest to defeat because of size. Besides defense, big men with post play is how teams wins championships. Griffin must be the man who leads the Clips to the promised land; and DJ must make the All Star Game this year to cement himself as a superstar. Is CP3 willing to agree to a reduced role this upcoming season?

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