By: Opinionated MJ
Championship for Clippers?
Retaining DeAndre Jordan, acquiring Lance Stevenson, signing Paul Pierce… Have the Clippers now finally put themselves into championship contention instead of playoff contention? They’ve honestly had no excuse to lose in the last two seasons but somehow, someway, we found a way to give them another big room full of excuses. This time they “didn’t have the depth to survive against teams with more depth.” Okay, fine. Still, Blake Griffin improved his shot, Chris Paul improved his balance and also played in all 82 games, and JJ Redick finally made sense to be in someone’s starting rotation. Until the playoffs hit, then came calamity. We overlook the achievement for Chris Paul though, playing in all the games and doing his best to not miss any in the playoffs. In a new NBA world where the players don’t want to play 82 games, they want midseason vacations, a longer break during All-Star weekend, less minutes while they’re in their primes and requests for better teammates, Chris Paul actually found a way to improve. Just hope his critics were paying attention.
The real question now is, “Do the Clippers have the players in place to succeed?” I’m really high on having players who have “championship” experience on your team in order to get to the promise land. Golden State had a coach who has won in different settings. Be apart of the Jordan Bulls and the Spurs organization when they’ve won titles over the last 20 years. He’s been side by side with the likes of Jordan, Pippen, Duncan, Parker, Phil Jackson and Greg Popovich. It can’t get any better than that can it? He has a pedigree and understanding of the game. He also set the team up for success when he asked some of the players to play certain roles that would eventually land them a ring in return. The Clippers now have Doc Rivers along with Paul Pierce this time around step up into those big moments. If Pierce was there against the Rockets, it would’ve been Clippers 4-2. These additions are great for offense but what will they do for defense? Paul Pierce won’t be stopping anyway, and that’s the truth. Lance had a lost season with the Hornets but I’m sure that with CP3 and DeAndre on the floor with him, they’ll be a defensive nightmare and they will be able to hide him and Griffin on nights against the OKC Thunder and the Golden State Warriors. The real question now is, “What about those Spurs?”
Could they beat the Spurs now that they’ve added Aldridge and West to their team? Pierce isn’t guarding Duncan with any success. Did you see what Duncan was doing to DeAndre?!?! He was doing it at 39 years old and almost no athletic effort! So Imagine what pick & rolls will look like with Parker having Duncan and Aldridge at his disposal AT THE SAME TIME! They’ve retained their defense in Kawhi & Danny Green and they also have a system in place that apparently is the direct way to fight against father time. One year they’re old, the next year they are in the Finals. So we would be best to not drop that special “they’re old” line like we do when they have slow stretches. I don’t think that they’ll have any slow stretches this offseason.
Can the Clippers find a way to utilize Lance the way he was used during his last season in Indiana? If they can have him anchor the bench then I truly think they may have something figured out. Jamal Crawford actually wants to leave now and wants to go to the easy breezy Eastern Conference to the team that will damn near have a cakewalk to the Finals for the next 2-4 years, the Cavaliers. I sound like a hater. I am a proud hater of how garbage the Eastern Conference is. Go Cavs, I expect them to win a chip soon anyway, especially if this trade happens, but who is sent back in return? If I’m the Clippers, I’m pushing for Dellavedova and Thompson, yes BOTH! This won’t happen but I’m not helping a Finals team get better. I’m not accepting a JR Smith sign & trade. I would entertain acquiring Timofey Mozgov, sure, but I’ll need a few picks along with it. Hard bargain.
The path to the Finals goes through OKC, Golden State, and San Antonio. No one else is a legitimate threat, including the Rockets. Four headed monster in the West with a few dark horses. The Pelicans, Rockets, Grizzlies, and I’d just throw a #8 seeded Kings team out there just because I truly don’t know who’ll fit into that spot. The Clippers should be able to beat the lower seeds and have shown what they can do against the Spurs which legitimizes whether they could win in the west or not. At least to me. If you can beat the Spurs than you can survive and succeed out west. The Spurs have a way of breaking a team down and shredding away at your strengths. The Clippers proved to me that they’re ready to take the next step, it’s all left up to the chemistry they’ll have with their new additions.