NBA Season Preview And Predictions: Los Angeles Clippers Take Aim At An NBA Title Run

All of the talk going on in Hollywood has been focused on the Kings of Los Angeles. And, no not the Los Angeles Kings, the Los Angeles Lakers. The team that has won 16 NBA titles, 31 conference titles, and have had 24 Hall of Famers and counting. 

Plain and simple Jack Nicholson does not like losers. He is a Laker and Yankee fan, which have a combined for 43 championships.


While Nicholson took the summer off, the Lakers were extremely busy this offseason. They made a deal with the Phoenix Suns to acquire Steve Nash and then made a blockbuster deal to land Dwight Howard. The organization knows Kobe Bryant only has a few good years ahead of him so it was crucial to get the Black Mamba some more help. 


However, like usual, the Los Angeles Clippers are back to being the step child of Los Angeles. They had a very good summer bringing in some veteran players to add depth to a team that made it to the second round of the playoffs last season. 


Their moves have gone under the radar because the Lakers have been the talk of the town. Anytime a powerhouse like the Lakers acquire two superstars, everything else in the city is overlooked. 


The Clippers traded Mo Williams to Utah in a three-team deal to acquire Lamar Odom. This was a huge pickup for the Clippers, if Odom plays like he is capable of. Odom still has a lot in the tank, but it will be crucial for him to just forget about last year. 


Williams was a good role player for the Clippers, but the team is top-heavy at the guard position and needed to add more size.


They weren't done there. The Clippers also acquired Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill, Willie Green, Matt Barnes, Ronny Turiaf, and re-signed Chauncey Billups. (Billups is eyeing a return in mid-to-late November.) 


This team is loaded with depth. Just take a look at their projected roster for the 2012-13 season.


POINT GUARD

 

Chris Paul, Eric Bledsoe (Crawford & Billups can play point too)


SHOOTING GUARD


Chauncey Billups, Jamal Crawford, Willie Green


SMALL FORWARD


Caron Butler, Grant Hill, Matt Barnes


POWER FORWARD


Blake Griffin, Lamar Odom, Trey Thompkins


CENTER


DeAndre Jordan, Ronny Turiaf, Ryan Hollins



The Clippers have a lot of depth, but this season will come down to one guy: Blake Griffin. He will be the focal point if the Clippers take that next step to be considered serious title contenders.

 

The Clippers need Griffin to improve on his offensive game outside of the paint. Griffin shot 27.7% from 10-15 feet last year.


He has all of the talent in the world to be the best power forward in the NBA. If the Clippers want to take that next step, Griffin needs to improve on his shooting, and more importantly, his defense.


There is no reason why he shouldn't be one of the better defenders in the NBA because of his athleticism and size. Unfortunately, he is not that good of a defender yet. The Clippers need him to be a force on the defensive end, and with him being so young, he has a really good chance to improve defensively down the road. 


In his first two seasons he has been phenomenal earning back-to-back All-Star selections based on his offensive prowess. Griffin's stats in his first two years: 21.7 PPG, 11.5 RPG, 3.5 APG, and is shooting 52% from the floor. He joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson, Elgin Baylor, and Sidney Wicks as the only players to average 20 PPG, 10 RPG, and 3 APG in their first two seasons.


Also, Griffin is the only player in the NBA to put up those numbers in either of the last two season, and he did it both years. So for anyone that says he is overrated, please sit down. The guy is a top-five power forward in the NBA and the scary thing is he hasn't even reached his prime yet. 


Now to the man who steers the ship: Chris Paul. He is a top-five player in this league and is the best point guard in the game. The guy does it all.


Last year, he led the Los Angeles Clippers to their highest winning percentage in franchise history (60.6%). He finished third in the MVP race in 2011. He averaged 19.8 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 9.1 APG, and 2.5 SPG. 


Chris Paul is also one of five players in NBA history to average 19 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 9 APG, and 2 SPG in a season. 


Chris Paul's best strength is his clutch play in the fourth quarter. He led the NBA in 2011 with a 38.7 PER (Player Efficiency Rating) in the final 12 minutes. I don't know if there is a guy you can trust more than Paul in crunch time. He should change his nickname from CP3 to CP4.


With two superstars in Paul and Griffin, a great core group with Billups, Butler, Jordan, Odom, Crawford, Bledsoe, Hill, and Green this team has a chance to be really good this year. You could make the argument that this is the deepest team in the NBA.


The Clippers need Griffin to improve on his scoring outside of the paint and on the defensive side of the floor. 


It will be crucial for Odom to play like he did when he was with the Los Angeles Lakers. 


They need Billups to stay healthy, because this team would have won the Pacific division if Mr. Big Shot would have stayed healthy last season. 


Head Coach Vinny Del Negro has been on the hot seat, but if the Clippers perform like they should he will lead this team to one of the top four-seeds in the playoffs as Lil Wayne says, "The Sky is the Limit" for the Clippers this season.


PREDICTION


56-26

 

2nd in the Pacific Division


4th seed in the Western Conference Playoffs


NBA Championship?? Not this year. The future looks bright for the "other team" in Hollywood.

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