Los Angeles Up for Grabs; Is it Clipper Time?
Chris Paul leads a much deeper, more experienced team into battle with a more mature front-court of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan who have worked on their fundamentals this summer to fine-tune their game. The additions of Lamar Odom, Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill, Matt Barnes and Ryan Hollins injects a sense of urgency within the starting unit to get the job done because the Clippers do not lost much when going to their bench.
Eric Bledsoe proved in the playoffs last year that he is unafraid of the moment and he is far quicker than anyone else on the floor. His defensive intensity on and off the ball give the second unit an explosive element that most teams cannot bottle up.
The Clippers head into their opener tomorrow night facing a team they needed seven games to eliminate in the first round of the 2012 playoffs. The Memphis Grizzlies lost O.J. Mayo to the Mavericks and have otherwise remained the same, expecting more minutes from younger pieces to spell Tony Allen in moments where offensive consistency is required from the two spot.
The Lakers cast a big, Hollywood shadow when they brought Steve Nash and Dwight Howard to Los Angeles, however the Clippers smaller and more effective moves may indeed provide the bigger impact. Odom is the wild card, the one they took a chance on - and he knows it as well as anyone. This is his time to prove he still has game. and what better time to perform on a team that will only need him to play aggressively for 24 minutes a game.
Hill and Barnes provide depth at the three spot with the ability to rest Caron Butler for long periods if needed. Once Chauncey Billups returns, the Clippers will have three available and fully capable two-guards; Crawford, Billups and Willie Green. Green is the overlooked and underrated part of the Clippers offseason. He plays hard-nosed defense and knocks down the open shots as defenses tend to collapse on other players.
Los Angeles is a wide open race. The Clippers finished only a mere three games behind the Lakers last year. This year it appears the race will come down to the wire.