The Clippers look to finally be ready for their close-up after one-upping the Lakers during this lockout-shortened offseason by acquiring Chris Paul from the Hornets.
After two failed attempts to get Paul to L.A. — one to the Lakers, one to the Clippers — the Clips finally found a package that would appease the Hornets (or the NBA) and were able to pull off the deal of what was a frenzied offseason.
With that, the Clippers have positioned themselves to take over as the main basketball draw in Hollywood. And more importantly, the Clippers may now have a team that, if healthy, can contend for Western Conference supremacy.
After being at best an afterthought in Los Angeles and at worst an NBA doormat, the Clippers have proved that they're ready to take off.
They have the potential to be the NBA's most exciting team not only this season, but in a long time. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan alone helped them do that on their own last season, and the inclusion of Paul will only make them more fun to watch.
In Griffin's words, Los Angeles is about to become "Lob City."
L.A. is a town that loves glitz and glamour — it's not nicknamed Tinseltown for nothing. Now, as the suddenly dysfunctional Lakers look to be heading over the hill (an entire discussion by itself), the Clippers are poised to step in and take the torch as the city's most entertaining Staples Center occupant (no offense, Kings).
More important than overcoming the little brother syndrome that has plagued the Clippers since their inception is the fact that the Clippers now have the chance to be an actual, legitimate contender in the West.
Paul is a guy who can make players around him better, as evidenced by his impressive assist totals throughout his career. You can probably expect that total to increase this season, when he's doling out alley-oops to Griffin and Jordan. When Paul isn't facilitating, he's no slouch when it comes to scoring the basketball. Teams will have to respect the legitimate options around him (something he never really had to the extent he does now in L.A.), and Paul may be opened up even more to score at will.
The Clippers actually have some nice depth too. Mo Williams gives them a serviceable backup point guard with experience. Ryan Gomes and Randy Foye have been solid players throughout their young careers, and they should prove to be nice options for Vinny Del Negro's bench. If Eric Bledsoe can come back strong from a knee injury, that will only help. Bledsoe's opportunity to learn from both Paul and veteran guard Chauncey Billups should only benefit the first-round pick from a year ago and the Clippers alike.
Most importantly, the Clippers will likely be a hungry team. The Clips have forever, for lack of a better term, sucked. Don't think that won't play a part when it comes to motivation. Throw in the fact that most of that roster hasn't won a thing, there shouldn't be any problems when it comes to motivation this season.
It's not automatic, and a lot of things need to go right for the Clippers. First, they're going to need to stay healthy, something that hasn't been real easy for them in the recent past. Griffin missed his entire rookie season with a gruesome knee injury. Paul has a history of creaky knees. Should the Clippers lose either of those guys, they will instantly fall in the Western Conference hierarchy.
However, if they're healthy, driven and consistent, the Clippers will make some noise this season. And it won't be just crosstown rival Lakers who will be listening. The rest of the NBA will have to take notice too.
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