The biggest improvement that the Clippers made this offseason won't be wearing a uniform on opening night – he'll be wearing a suit and sitting on the bench.
Doc Rivers is the new coach of the Clippers and brings with him NBA Championship-winning experience and cachet with players that few other coaches in the league can boast.
The Best in the West?
Just Keep Improving
Another Trying Season
They're Not Last
Playing For 2014-15
With respect to Del Negro, by the end of his tenure in Los Angeles, it became clear that he wasn't on the same page with more than just Paul. Rivers's ability to relate to his charges, as well as enrich their own leadership skills, was well-documented with the Boston Celtics and the Clippers gig won't be a walk in the park. Though, Paul is said to be eager to work with Rivers, the former Wake Forest man wears his heart on his sleeve and can be temperamental. Rivers will need to get Paul to do a better job of harnessing his emotions.
Rivers could end up being just about the perfect fit for the Clippers. In just about every sport you can think of, there are myriad examples of teams who are lions in the regular season, but go out like lambs in the playoffs. The Clippers have experienced that once and they don't want it to become a regular occurrence, which is why Rivers, the man who helped the Celtics go from a 24-win team in 2007 to NBA Champions in 2008, is the ideal man to make sure it doesn't happen.
Personnel-wise, the team made some net gains adding solid players around their top-notch core of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Veterans Darren Collison, Jared Dudley and Antawn Jamison have been thrown into the bench mix while sharp-shooter JJ Redick slots in as Paul's backcourt partner.
This a rock solid roster with pretty much everything needed to complete for a title. They have star power, depth and great coaching.
If Jordan can lock down the inside defensively and Paul and Griffin can build on last year's success, there's no reason to think that the Clippers won't, once again, be at the top of the Pacific Division and competing for the Western Conference title.
The Not So Good
The most telling aspect of this Clippers season will be how the club will deal with any adversity.
Rivers has already acknowledged that chemistry might be an issue to start the season with as many new faces as the club has, but how will this team respond to a prolonged losing streak?
Expectations were high last year for the Clippers, but they were nothing compared to this season's and if the team fails to live up to them early, what kind of reaction will that elicit? Chris Paul has his coach in place, so will he provide a response to hardship befitting of a veteran seeking a championship or will he fall back into the petulance that is now expected from him?
As good as these Clippers can be, there is still a long way to go, both on the court and mentally.