The Clipper faithful are very optimistic coming into next season. They’ve got Blake Griffin back from the medial meniscus injury that kept him out of the London Olympics and they’ve made some serious off-season moves. The Clippers picked up Jamal Crawford, Lamar Odom, Grant Hill, and perhaps most importantly, they’ll have Chauncey Billups back in the lineup. With the Lakers scooping Dwight Howard and Steve Nash this off-season, everyone has resigned themselves to the fact that the Western Conference goes through the Lakers, but not so fast.
The Clippers will create significant matchup problems for a lot of teams. This is especially true with both CP3 and Billups in the lineup. This either makes Billups a nasty 2-guard or the best second team 1-guard in the league. Throwing the addition of Crawford and Grant on the small forward position and the Clippers not only have a solid first team, but a star-studded second team too. They may find themselves outscoring a lot of opponents even more with their second team than their first.
They might not have the shear strength of a Dwight Howard, but they’ve got incredible athleticism up and down the court. Billups back in the lineup provides leadership, free-throw shooting, and clutch shooting at the end of games, meaning the Clippers will have a legitimate shot at finishing the regular season in the Western Conference’s top three. No doubt they’ll also have to out-play either the Spurs, Lakers, or Thunder. The West is loaded with talent, but the Clippers have a lot going for them.
The most important factor in the Clippers' future is the continued development of Griffin and DeAndre Jordan; arguably the NBA’s two biggest high-flyers. They can leap through the roof and regularly throw down tear-jerking dunks. But what the Clippers need to advance in the playoffs is free-throws, mid-range jumpers, and consistency.
Dunks are great for ESPN’s Top 10 and it’s cool to have a nickname like Lob City, but rings are much cooler. Clipper fans are hoping Griffin and Jordan aren’t letting their newfound success go to their head and are instead hungry to develop into the type of well-rounded offensive threats that win more than dunk championships.
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