The Los Angeles Clippers are more than just fun and games this season.
Sure, they’re a team made up of highlight reel players, but they are more than the sum of their awesome parts.
The Clippers have championship aspirations. And this year they might just have the veteran savvy to make a deep run in the postseason.
As long as the Clippers have shared the city of Los Angeles with the Lakers it has been Laker-nation. But this year, it’s the Clippers who run the town and it’s not just because the Lakers have had a historically disappointing season. It takes a pretty good team to pass 50 wins in a season and the Clippers have been successful on the road and at home.
Many people choose to focus on the collapse of the Lakers or the astonishingly consistent Spurs. Or the young Thunder. Or the trendy Denver Nuggets. And let’s be honest, who hasn’t been talking about the Heat and their historic win streak as they attempt to break the 1971-1972 Lakers’ NBA record?
But watch a single game of the Los Angeles Clippers and they’ll grab your attention. The team acquired Chris Paul prior to last season and he quickly proved why he might be the best point guard on the planet.
With Paul’s reputation as a table setter (someone with great vision who can put the ball exactly where it needs to be) and Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan’s ability to jump unbelievably high and throw down monstrous dunks, the team was affectionately nicknamed “Lob City.” And they more than lived up to their nickname. Griffin has been a regular in nightly NBA highlights and surely has every arena making sure they have replacement backboards ready on-call.
Last season was a successful one for Clippers standards, but the San Antonio Spurs ultimately swept them in the second round. And with Paul on the roster, the expectations have begun to rise.
The Clippers front office used the offseason to retool with veteran players to fill out their bench. Lob City added Jamal Crawford and Grant Hill to go along with Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups who were already on the roster and have championship experience. They also took a chance on adding former Clipper and Laker Lamar Odom, who has given them valuable production off of the bench.
L..A. likes to play with a little flare, and Crawford’s addition has proven to be the perfect fit. The 13 year guard has played for six NBA teams in his career and he has done one thing on all of them: score the basketball.
Crawford plays like he belongs on the playground. He may be the only player on the Clippers that can claim to have better handles than Chris Paul (in fact, he might be one of the only players in the NBA that can claim that). And he has the unusual record of having the most four-point plays in NBA history (and it’s not even close). But what he adds most to this Clipper team is a scoring punch and swagger coming off the bench. At 16.8 points per game Crawford is most likely a run-away leader for sixth man of the year (an award he has already won with the Atlanta Hawks). And don’t be mistaken, the man has the ability to make anyone in the NBA who tries to guard him look absolutely silly.
So the Clippers aren’t less flashy than they were last season: they are flashier. And that’s not just because of their awe-inspiring dunks. But don’t think that they don’t have the weapons to not only win the West, but perhaps the NBA Title.
No matter what happens, the Clippers will make the 2013 NBA playoffs a little bit more exciting.