It's time to take the Los Angeles Clippers seriously. They proved last season that despite all the negative baggage they carry, and in spite of the worst owner in pro sports, talent trumps all.
Build your team around a pair of superstars under the age of 30 and you're guaranteed a playoff spot. In Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, the Clippers have exactly that.
For a franchise that has proven capable of nothing except for running itself into the ground since moving to Southern California, the Clips have righted the ship over the past couple of years.
They began by following the ever more popular "Thunder Model" (Sam Presti really should get that phrase trademarked) and built through the draft.
LA had a strong three-year lottery run from 2008 to 2010 that netted them Eric Gordon, DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin, Al-Farouq Aminu and Eric Bledsoe.
From there, the Clippers were able to do what the Houston Rockets have for years failed to pull off and cash their young assets in for a bona fide superstar.
What resulted was a team that posted the best winning percentage in franchise history and just its second postseason series win ever.
Though the man pulling all the right strings, former GM Neil Olshey, is no longer with the organization, what he leaves behind is a roster chock-full of talent.
Even without a general manager calling the shots this offseason, the Clippers have still managed to add more veteran talent to the roster to support their two stars.
True, Chris Paul's future still hangs in the balance, but it will be extremely difficult for a great competitor like him to walk away from a team on the cusp of winning a championship. That's a position that this Clippers team will likely be in after another strong postseason push in 2013.
And if we've learned anything over the last couple of seasons, it's that superstars attract other superstars. So do large markets. The Clippers have both.
They're set up well for the present and the future. That's why it's time for the league to start taking LA's other team a bit more seriously.