NBA

Los Angeles Clippers

Division: PacificGM: Gary SacksHead Coach: Doc Rivers
2012-13: 56-26 (4th in West)vs. division 11-5
Points101.1 (9th)
Rebounds41.6 (18th)
Assists23.9 (4th)
FG %.478 (4th)

Clippers Thinking Championship

CHOOSE YOUR TEAM

Eastern Conference Atlanta Hawks Boston Celtics Brooklyn Nets Charlotte Bobcats Chicago Bulls Cleveland Cavaliers Detroit Pistons Indiana Pacers Miami Heat Milwaukee Bucks New York Knicks Orlando Magic Philadelphia 76ers Toronto Raptors washington wizards


Western Conference Dallas Mavericks Denver Nuggets Golden State Warriors Houston Rockets LA Clippers LA Lakers Memphis Grizzlies Minnesota Timberwolves New Orleans Pelicans Oklahoma City Thunder Phoenix Suns Portland Trail Blazers Shaqramento Kings San Antonio Spurs Utah Jazz

The Los Angeles Clippers had their best regular season in team history (posting a record 56 wins) and they won their first-ever division title. They even swept their season series with the Lakers for the first time since leaving Buffalo. Chris Paul staked his claim as the best point guard in basketball and Blake Griffin continued his emergence as one of the most entertaining players in the NBA.

So why is it, then, that head coach Vinny Del Negro doesn't have a job right now?

As great as the Clippers' regular season was, their playoffs ended abruptly and, somewhat unexpectedly, at the hands of the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round (in six games.)

For a team with legitimate title aspirations, even in a tough Western Conference, this simply wasn't good enough and Del Negro paid for it (well, that and a reportedly contentious relationship with Paul, who re-signed in the offseason and, not coincidentally, after Del Negro had been let go.)

The off-season went about as well as it could for the Clippers. After signing locking up Paul, they replaced Del Negro with Doc Rivers, whom the team brought in from Boston in exchange for an unprotected first-round draft pick.

The Clippers also went shopping for talent in the off-sesaon adding J.J. Redick, Jared Dudley, Darren Collison and Byron Mullens.

All the new additions did come at a price though as Eric Bledsoe, Caron Butler and Chancey Billups have all moved elsewhere.

The long and short of it all is that this was a very good team last year that should be even better in 2013-14.

Who's In/Who's Out

Key Additions: J.J. Redick, Jared Dudley, Darren Collison, Reggie Bullock, Byron Mullens, Antawn Jameson

Key Losses: Eric Bledsoe, Chauncey Billups, Lamar Odom, Grant Hill, Ronny Turiaf

Analysis: Bullock will have plenty of time to learn and develop on a roster as deep as the Clippers. He is a very versatile shooter that can help stretch opposing defences and could become a solid energy palyer off the bench by the end of the season. He knocked down 44 percent of his threes for the Tar Heels last season and can play both wing spots. (-TSN.ca)

Round 1 25th overall Reggie Bullock PF North Carolina

The Good

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.

PACIFIC PICKS


Clippers (57-25)

The Best in the West?


Warriors (51-31)

Just Keep Improving


Lakers (40-42)

Another Trying Season


Kings (29-53)

They're Not Last


Suns (21-61)

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.

 

Clippers Depth Chart

Power Forward

Blake Griffin
Byron Mullens
Antawn Jamison

Center

DeAndre Jordan
Ryan Hollins

Small Forward

Jared Dudley
Matt Barnes
Reggie Bullock

Shooting Guard

J.J. Redick
Jamal Crawford
Willie Green

Point Guard

Chris Paul
Darren Collison
Maalik Wayns

What To Expect

The Clippers are one of very few teams with a legitimate shot at lifting the Larry O'Brien trophy. They have all the ingredients for a championship in place and now they just need to get everyone on the same page and go out there and prove they are for real.

There is no reason to think the Clippers won't be tops in the Pacific division again this season and push the likes of Oklahoma City and San Antonio for the top-seed in the West.

Fans in L.A. just might see another title this year. But this time, it won't be the Lakers.




Big Tour

A Historic Event

It was Canada's night at the NBA Draft as four players from north of the border were selected.


1. Andrew Wiggins - Cavaliers

8. Nik Stauskas - Kings

18. Tyler Ennis - Suns

45. Dwight Powell - Hornets


2014 NBA Draft Tracker

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