The Los Angeles Clippers have long been the ignored little brother to the mighty Los Angeles Lakers. As difficult as it is to believe, this relationship may be about to change in a big way thanks to NBA commissioner Donald Stern.
They have a long history of being, shall we say, poorly run. Even when they’ve had good players, they’ve either let them go in free agency or seen the players have the worst luck with injuries. This appeared to be happening again when they drafted stud Blake Griffin in 2009 out of the University of Oklahoma only to see him miss his first year with a knee injury. Fortunately, the 2010 season saw Griffin return to good health and perform as advertised. They “improved” to 32-50, but that was still a losing record of course. The fact that Griffin was able to put on a good show added some buzz to the team. Many people bought Clippers tickets just to see the slam dunk sensation.
The 2011 season was shaping up to be the same, but then NBA Commissioner David Stern stepped in and stopped a trade of superstar Chris Paul from the New Orleans Hornets to the Lakers and instead manipulated a trade to the Clippers. The perennial losers, now have arguably the best point guard and power forward in the NBA. The question is whether it will be enough to put them in front of the Lakers in the NBA pecking order. Rumors have already been spreading that they will be a better team than the Lakers.
The training camp up to this point has been rendered irrelevant. The team traded starters Eric Gordon, forward Al-Farouq Aminu, center Chris Kaman, a first round pick in 2012 and two future second round picks to get Paul. In short, they traded most of their starting lineup with the exception of Blake Griffin. Any work done up to this point in training camp is out the window, but they aren’t to worried given the fact they have Paul on the team now.
So, what will the future lineup look like with the Clippers? Well, you can pencil Chris Paul in at the starting point guard position and Blake Griffin in at the power forward position. With Kaman gone, DeAndre Jordan can now step in at center and build on his solid 2010 season. At small forward, the team can go with Ryan Gomes again, but he was horrible in 2010. The team has nothing to speak of at the shooting guard situation. One can expect waiver pickup, Chauncey Billups, to spend time there, but look for the team to scour the waiver wire for a three point threat who can take advantage of all the attention Paul and Griffin will see from defenses. Many fans can’t wait to see these two play. Most have already bought their Clipper tickets to their first regular season home game on December 30th, 2011 against the Chicago Bulls.
They did nothing much in the 2011 NBA draft. The team took two players from the University of Georgia in the second round. Forward Trey Thompkins is seen as a potential back up for Blake Griffin. Travis Leslie was also drafted as a shooting guard, but is viewed as a quality defensive player, not an offensive force.
So, what is the outlook for this season for the Clippers? For the first time in, well, forever, the outlook is tremendous. The Utah Jazz built a dynasty around Karl Malone and John Stockton. The Clippers can do the same with Griffin and Paul. Jordon is also a young and upcoming center. The team is devoid of talent at the shooting guard and small forward position, but expect them to aggressively pursue trades and signings to deal with the problem before the season starts.