Los Angeles Clippers Predictions
Last Year’s Record: 40-26
Key Losses: Mo Williams, Nick Young, Kenyon Martin, Randy Foye
Key Additions: Lamar Odom, Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill, Matt Barnes, Willie Green, Ryan Hollins
There’s no question Jordan is a strong rebounder and can block shots defensively, but his poor foul shooting doesn’t allow him to play in the 4th quarter when his team needs him on the floor. He doesn’t provide much offensively outside of dunking the basketball, but he doesn’t force up shots to hurt his team. While he is great at blocking shots, the rest of his defense could use some improvement.
Another big guy who lacks offensive talent. Hollins is sound defensively but isn’t much of a threat to score when he has the ball. He does an extremely poor job of rebounding the ball given his size and rarely blocks shots or create turnovers via steals. He likely won’t see a ton of minutes as he will share the backup center role with Ronnie Turiaf.
There arguably isn’t a more exciting finisher in the game. Griffin has quickly become one of the best power forwards in the NBA and there is still room for him to improve. He shot a ridiculous 74% around the rim, mostly because he can dunk over just about everyone. If he can improve his shooting from 10 ft and out and figure out how to make free throws consistently, he will be one of the most dominant offensive players in the game. His free throw shooting needs the most work of anything. For someone who gets to the line as much as he does, he has to be able to shoot better than 52%.
While he is a solid rebounder and defender, he still has room to improve in both of those categories. This will only be his third full season in the league so there’s reason to believe he will just keep getting better.
Butler might have won over the hearts of Clippers fans by playing in the playoffs with a broken hand, but he needs to step up his offensive production if he wants to help this team win a championship. His outside shooting wasn’t great but it wasn’t all that bad either. Where he struggled was from 10ft and in. He isn’t a great passer or rebounder, which really only makes him effective if he is shooting at a high percentage from all over the field. His defense is solid but not great.
It’s going to be interesting to see which Lamar Odom decides to show up this season. The one that averaged 14.4 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3 assists during the 2010-11 campaign or the one who put up 6.6 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.7 assists last year with Dallas. Whether it was the fact that he was crushed from leaving the Lakers or the off-court tragedies he had to deal with, he showed little interest while playing with the Mavericks.
The Clippers are hoping Hill still has something left in the tank. The soon-to-be 40-year-old suffered noticeable decline on the offensive end last year, but he remained strong on the defensive end. While he no longer has the spring in his step to attack the rim, he is a good enough midrange shooter to play a key role in Los Angeles.
No one played a bigger role in the Clippers becoming a contender in the Western Conference than Paul. In my opinion he is the best point guard in the NBA without question. While he is know for making everyone around him better with his ability to distribute the basketball, he is at is his best when he is aggressive offensively. He can score from all over the floor and no one is better at utilizing the pick-and-role. His ability to create turnovers with his quick hands on defense more than makes up for his lack of size. As long as he stays healthy the Clippers will have a legit shot at winning the West.
Billups was limited to just 20 games last year and the Clippers certainly missed him come playoff time. In the games he did play he didn’t shoot the ball well, making just 36.4% of his attempts. His career numbers suggest that was more of an outlier than a cause for concern. He offset his poor field goal percentage by shooting 38% from behind the arc and getting to the free throw line at a high rate. His defense isn’t great but his value on offense more than makes up for it.
Los Angeles is hoping that Crawford can come off the bench and give this a huge lift. The Clippers offense really struggled last year when Paul wasn’t on the floor to create shots for himself and his teammates. They won’t have to worry about Crawford find an open look. His best attribute is his ability to come into a game and take over offensively. The one area where he really struggled last year was with his 3-point shot. He shot a career-worst 30.8% from behind the arc, but a lot of that had to do with the role he was playing in Portland.
He isn’t going to give the Clippers a whole lot on offense, but he will earn playing time with his ability to lock down opposing players on the defensive end of the floor.
While the expectations are going to be extremely high for the Clippers, I have my concerns with this team. There’s no question they feature two of the premiere players in the game in Paul and Griffin, but they are going to need see improvements from the supporting cast to really make a serious run at a championship. The one player that could make or break this team is Odom. If he can somehow come close to the player he was with the Lakers, I think this team is as good as any in the West. Health is also something that worries me with this team, as they have a number of players who have struggled to stay on the floor the last couple of seasons. I currently have them finishing second in the Pacific behind the rival Lakers. I don’t think there is any doubt this team makes the playoffs, but I currently don’t see them finishing in the top half of the eight teams who make the postseason.
Odds to Win the NBA Championship: 25/1
Odds to Win the Western Conference: 11/1
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