Step aside, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Make way for Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and … uh … DeAndre Jordan, maybe?
Doc Rivers thinks his Clippers could have a new “Big Three” in the making, but that’s not all. He also says this Clippers squad could put his great Celtics teams to shame.
“They should be better than any team I’ve ever coached, I really believe that,” Rivers said. “They’re more athletic. They don’t have the veteran IQ, but they should be in that area. We have a couple of individual defenders that can be dominating on defense. We have great speed, but we don’t have the size in some ways as some of the teams I’ve coached.”
This will no doubt irk Celtics fans, but the bigger issue with Rivers’ comments is that they are objectively a stretch. Paul is a great; there is no denying that. But Griffin in 2013 has work to do to reach Garnett’s stature in 2007, even if Griffin has blossomed more quickly as a player than Garnett did.
And at this point, any talk about Jordan’s potential greatness — Rivers said he expects Jordan to be in the running for defensive player of the year — is just talk. Despite gaudy blocked shots totals, Jordan has only shown flashes of understanding basic defensive tenets, and entering his sixth NBA season, he is at the point for many players when bad habits become ingrained.
Based purely on talent, the Clippers could be a championship contender and therefore one of the best teams Rivers has ever coached. There is a semantic difference between “potential” and “capability,” though. These Clippers have the untapped potential inside them to challenge the Thunder, Spurs and Grizzlies for Western Conference supremacy. The Celtics from 2008 to 2012 were capable of contending for a title each and every year.
The evidence so far suggests it will be hard to boost the level of play of so many Clippers players in one year. Then again, this is why the Clippers shelled out all that money and the draft pick to get Rivers this summer. Whether the Clippers live up to his expectations is entirely up to him.