Los Angeles Clippers: 4 Reasons Why They're Must-Watch TV
Bad franchise decisions? Check. Terrible on-court performance? Check. Constantly upstaged in Los Angeles by the championship-winning Lakers? Check.
Well move over, Kobe Bryant.
Your team will have to learn to play nice and share the Staples Center spotlight in 2012—the Clippers are little brothers no more.
Here are four reasons why this year's version of The Clip-crew is must-watch television:
1. Chris Paul
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That one move made the Clippers instant contenders in the Western Conference and turned the team into one that will command its opponents’ respect night in and night out.
All you need to know about Chris Paul’s abilities as a basketball player were summarized in the last seconds of L.A.’s win over Portland on Sunday night.
With the Clippers up by two points and half-a-minute left, Chris Paul brought the ball up the court, called for a pick at the top of the key, split a double-team, drove through the lane and calmly banked a jump shot over the outstretched hand of LaMarcus Aldridge.
On the other side of the court, Paul clamped down on scorer Jamal Crawford and forced a jump ball as Crawford tried to release a three-point attempt. Then, despite the five-inch height disadvantage, Paul won the jump ball from Crawford to seal the victory.
You want highlight plays? No problem; CP3 has you covered. Midway through the fourth quarter, Paul threw up an off-balance shot from beyond the arc that barely beat the shot-clock buzzer to extend the Clippers’ lead to seven.
Speaking of highlight plays…
2. Blake Griffin
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Thanks to Dominique Wilkins, the nickname “Human Highlight Film” has already been taken.
It just might be time for a “part two.”
After being drafted first overall by the Clippers in 2009, the NBA had to wait an entire season for Blake-mania to set in after he missed the entire 2009-2010 season. Griffin broke his kneecap in the final preseason game that year (an event that served as a microcosm of the Clippers’ franchise as a whole).
But man, was it worth the wait.
Griffin broke out in a big way last year, averaging 22.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and a handful of ridiculous, above-the-rim jams per game.
Indeed, it was quite a year for Blake Griffin. Rookie of the Year. NBA Slam Dunk Contest champion. NBA All-Star. 27 consecutive double-doubles. Two triple-doubles. Endorsement deals with Subway, Kia and AT&T.
Now, add in a premier point guard in Chris Paul, and the sky truly is the limit for Blake Griffin in 2012. He’s delivered his usual array of spectacular finishes in four games so far while averaging 27 and 10 per.
3. DeAndre Jordan
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While Griffin razzles and dazzles on the offensive side of the floor, this young man (and I do mean man) steals the spotlight when the Clippers are on defense.
At 6’11”, 265 pounds, and with athletic ability that doesn’t seem fair for someone his size, Jordan dares opposing players to come into the paint.
It’s a battle that Jordan wins more often than not. Last year, DJ finished among the league leaders in blocks while playing only 25 minutes per game. This year? More minutes, more blocks and (my prediction): first All-Star appearance.
But you can’t sleep on the big man when the Clippers have the ball, either. DeAndre’s height, athleticism and ability to keep up with Chris Paul on the fast break will lead to his own collection of “Did you just see that?” moments in 2012.
Jordan kicked off this NBA season in a big way, swatting away eight shots in the opener against Golden State. A week in, he leads the league in blocks per game with 3.8.
The scary part about DeAndre Jordan? He’s still going to get a lot better.
4. The Clippers Will Meet High Expectations
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A week into the NBA season, there are mixed reviews for the Los Angeles Clippers.
Sure, there have been plenty of dunks and highlight-reel plays from the Clippers’ version of “The Big Three,” but in the end, this year is going to be measured by wins and losses, and L.A. has split its first four games.
Poor rebounding and inconsistent defense has plagued the Clippers so far this year. Both of those things will have to change in order for all that talent and potential to translate into a jump up in the standings.
Will they finish with a better record than the Lakers? Can the Clippers host a first-round playoff series? Can they make a run at the title?
I’ll be tuning in to find out, and so should you.
For the record: My answer is "yes" to all three of the questions above.
One thing’s for sure—it’s an exciting time to be a Clippers fan.