Imagine being a Clippers fan on December 7th 2011. On that day, Clippers fans had the unfortunate task of watching Sports Center announce that the LA Lakers had won the Chris Paul sweepstakes. One can imagine the collective sighs, moans, groans and rearrangement of living room furniture from the Clippers fan base upon hearing that announcement. After years of having to deal with Lakers duos such as Magic-Worthy and Kobe-Shaq, the CP3-Kobe duo appeared to be a reality.
Then David Stern stuck his nose where it didn’t belong. However, The Clippers are better for it.
The arrival of CP3 has put this long-suffering franchise on the fast-track to being a championship contender. Last year, the Clippers were only worth watching to see Blake Griffin fly through the air with the greatest of ease. It was attractive and entertaining, but it didn’t translate into good basketball.
In the early part of the regular season, we have seen an increase in the entertainment value as well as the basketball IQ. This was seen in the Clippers OT win against the Heat in which Chris Paul scored 27 points, 11 assists and a +13 in the plus/minus column. Chris Paul’s mental fortitude and leadership will be a huge asset to Blake Griffin. Despite Blake Griffin’s statistical impact last season and this season, his game is still mostly raw and unpolished. If Griffin can develop his post-game and 16-foot jumpshot, he will be a match-up nightmare for opposing power-forwards.
Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups could be considered the X-factors for the LA Clippers. Both men would pay huge dividends if they could stay injury-free. But considering that both men finished their respective seasons sidelined with injuries, these free-agent pickups carry a significant amount of risk as well. Vinny Del Negro was smart to put Chauncey in the starting line-up at the 2 spot. Chauncey’s shot-making ability makes his transition to shooting guard easier. It also eliminated any potential controversy that could potentially have affected Chauncey’s morale. After all, Billups was very frustrated after his release from the Knicks.
DeAndre Jordan’s athleticism and shot-blocking ability are off the charts. Dwight Howard may be the only other center with more agility at the center position. However, he needs to develop an offensive game ASAP. One could only benefit from CP3’s lobs for so long. The Clipper’s lack of scoring depth off the bench is a concern. Mo Williams fits the role of sixth man perfectly, but Randy Foye and Bryan Cook will not scare opposing head coaches. Considering the longevity concerns of Butler and Billups, it would behoove Clippers GM Neil Olshey to add some scoring punch off the bench before the trading deadline.
One cannot help but love the chemistry of the Clipper’s starting lineup. A pure point guard, a 2 guard appropriately named Mr. Big Shot, a small forward that could penetrate and slash to the basket, a power forward that could put up 20 points and 10 rebounds at will, and a center that could alter shots at the rim.
The Lakers may need to sleep with one eye open. The Clippers are coming.
Lob City is in full effect!