Since CP3’s arrival in the “City of Lost Angels” in 2011, “Lob City” has been referred to as a highly exciting team to watch. Paul and the troops play at an extremely fast pace, consistently making highlight reel-plays. The recipe has translated to a lot of season success but hasn’t got the Clippers further than the 2nd round if the playoffs. LAC made significant roster adjustments in the offseason in hopes to better its chances of contending for a title. Let’s take a look at what the new-look Clippers offer this season:
Guards (A): Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Darren Collison, Jamal Crawford, Willie Green
The Clipps got particularly a lot of offense from their guards last year, Paul being the driving force behind all that. The Clipper guards are a bit different this year but probably improved and definitely more balanced. Eric Bledsoe and Chauncey Billups have been replaced with Darren Collison and J.J. Redick. Both newcomer guards are a perfect fit in Doc Rivers’ smooth-flowing offense. Collison returns as Chris Paul’s backup, a role he played when the two were on the Hornets. They were a highly efficient point guard duo and are expected to be even more efficient this time around. J.J. Redick is the new Ray Allen of Doc’s offense. It’s safe to say Redick is a top five shooter in the league as he has one of the cleanest looking jumpers in the game. Just in case any offense is missing from those three, Jamal Crawford has no problem providing the team with scoring as that’s the one facet of his game that clearly stands out.
Forwards (A-): Jared Dudley, Blake Griffin, Matt Barnes, Antawn Jamison, Reggie Bullock
The Clipps forwards just barely get an “A-” from me as I truly think Blake Griffin isn’t as good as he gets credit for being. By no means, am I intending to take a shot at Griffin. I just don’t think his game is yet fundamentally sound enough to be considered a franchise power forward. Not to mention, CP3 is a huge benefit to Griffin at all times they’re on the court together. That said, Griffin’s athletic ability and explosiveness for his size makes him pretty tough to hold back near the rim. Dudley is the new starting small forward and isn’t any less valuable than Caron Butler, the former starter. While Butler is probably a more complete player, I think Dudley fits better with Paul and the offense considering he strongly prefers to spot up on the perimeter. Barnes proved to be a pretty valuable player last year. While he isn’t outstanding in one specific area, his hard work and determination on the court makes him a very respectable asset. Jamison is nearing the end of his career so we’ll see how much the 37-year-old veteran can contribute to this solid bench.
Centers (B-): DeAndre Jordan, Byron Mullens, Ryan Hollins
Offense is very limited from starting center DeAndre Jordan. He can finish off lobs from Paul and collect offensive rebounds but that’s about it. It would definitely benefit the Clipps for Jordan to find some sort of post game. Currently, the opposing D just needs to worry about boxing him out. Mullens was a solid addition to plug in at the backup spot. Mullens hasn’t been relatively close to living up to the hype get got coming out of high school. However, Mullens has very impressive range for a seven footer as he’s comfortable letting loose from beyond the arc.
Defense (B): Defense has been a pretty weak spot for the Clipps as long as I can remember. Their defense has been much better under the command of Chris Paul but still struggles to be all that consistent. Under new coach Doc Rivers, that is likely to change. Rivers isn’t very fond of players who don’t work to make the team defensively sound. Jamal Crawford would apply as that type of player. I’m sure Crawford will still see a lot of playing time as they would be missing too much from a player who can provide sudden spurts of offense. Neither Redick or Griffin bring much value on the defensive end either. On the other hand, Dudley is more of Rivers’ type of defender who is willing to put in the effort on a nightly basis. Finally, Jordan has the potential to be Defensive Player of the Year. I’d say that’s possible as soon as this year. However, it would be difficult to win the award with the fast-paced offense being too detrimental to that cause.
Shooting (A): Chris Paul prefers to pass the ball but he is still a very good outside shooter. Paul isn’t the type to use his shooting ability to jack up desperate outside shots. Usually when he does score, it’s when his team could really use a basket or two. Otherwise, Paul does a fantastic job finding the shooters around him. That’s where the addition of Redick and Dudley are really going to come in handy. Barnes has also shown much improved range on his jumpshot. Crawford is an up-and-down shooter, but his ability makes him a dangerous threat every time he’s on the court. Crawford is one of the last players you want to allow to get on fire, as an opponent.
Experience (A): Chris Paul starting at the point automatically makes this squad experienced enough to make a deep playoff run. The starting bigs up front are still very much learning the game and Chris Paul helps them with that by feeding them the ball in the perfect spots. Jamison, Barnes, Redick, and Dudley all provide the Clipps with strong awareness as well.
Standing – 2nd West: This season is likely going to be a big franchise shaper for the Clippers. This franchise is really in need of motivation to keep them going. It’s not easy to stay near the top of the league, especially out in the wild West. A great regular season team, Doc and the Clipps are going to have to show the toughness and focus to be a successful postseason team.