Why Los Angeles Clippers Shouldn't Worry About Lakers' Stellar Offseason
The Lakers received Steve Nash in a sign-and-trade from the Phoenix Suns to solidify the point guard position, a spot of major concern last season. Then the Lakers re-signed Jordan Hill and added bench scoring in Antwan Jamison.
The Clippers looked to solidify their bench by adding Lamar Odom and Jamal Crawford, both previously Sixth Man of the Year, and added 40-year-old swingman Grant Hill.
It will be interesting to see who can secure the Pacific Division title in 2012. The Lakers won the Pacific last season by defeating the Clippers in two-out-of-three during the regular season.
With both teams looking strong for 2012, here are five reasons why the Los Angeles Clippers, the afterthought for decades, should turn their head away and not be worried about the moves of the Lakers.
Blake Griffin's Game Will Develop Next Season
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At 23 years of age while locked up to a five-year mega contract, Blake Griffin will be the face of the Clippers for years to come. Griffin is an electric talent, who can take over games with his athleticism and sensational dunking ability.
The knock on Blake Griffin's game however has been that he relies too much on that athleticism and struggles to score in half-court basketball, especially from the free-throw line, only shooting 52 percent last season.
Griffin is very young and will develop a more potent post game to go alongside his outstanding above the rim skills. If the Clippers want to match bigger teams like the Lakers, then Griffin must look to dominate the post and create opportunities for his teammates to thrive next season.
The future is bright in Clipperland mostly due to Blake Griffin's inevitable development as a scorer and post defender against elite competition.
Lamar Odom Gives Clippers Added Dimension
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Lamar Odom struggled last season to find his groove in Dallas but will find new life in the city of Angels.
Odom has played a productive career previously especially in 2010 when Odom was awarded the Sixth Man of the Year, averaging 14.4 points and 8.6 rebounds per game.
That kind of effort and scoring ability off the bench will translate tremendously in Los Angeles, a city that has called him home for all but two of Lamar's seasons in the NBA.
Odom adds size and scoring ability to a front line that struggled to do such last season. Outside of Blake Griffin, the Clippers frontcourt is very limited offensively and if Odom can provide any where close to his 2010 production, the Clippers will be a dangerous team.
Adding Odom should not only spark the fire in his game, but bring alive the Clippers chances to overtake the Lakers next season, regardless of who is playing in the post for that other team in LA.
Chauncey Billups Is an X-Factor
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Bringing back Chauncey Billups as the starting shooting guard will pay huge dividends for the Clippers next season.
Last season, the Clippers were 15-7 with Billups in the lineup, who was averaging 14.9 points per game while shooting 38 percent from behind the arc. Not only was Billups contributing, but his leadership and veteran experience were paying dividends late in games and with the development of the team.
Billups last season followed his career average and shot 89 percent from the free-throw line, something that will be key for a lineup that struggled to convert from the charity stripe all last season.
Billups' role as a leader and free-throw shooter will solidify the Clippers starting lineup next season which will give Paul a legitimate shooting wing-man when double-teams arrive late in the shot clock.
Young Nucleus Committed to Future
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Eric Bledsoe, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan are all relatively young talents ready to emerge in the coming years.
Not to mention bench contributors Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins, who are both only 22 years of age, this team is loaded with a strong but young nucleus.
The Clippers youth was best showcased in the playoffs when Eric Bledsoe stepped up his game to the next level as the main cog behind the Clippers relative success against San Antonio. Bledsoe averaged seven points per game in only 17 minutes of action per night but the stats don't tell the whole picture.
Bledsoe drove to the basket looking to score and dish, throwing off the Spurs with his combination of speed and strength. The first-round pick out of Kentucky has enormous talent and will only grow under the tutelage of Billups and Paul next season.
Twenty-three-year-old Jordan must learn how to play better defense by getting better position on the block. Jordan is a great shot blocker but struggles to get in proper position to control the paint the way a Dwight Howard does, but with more experience and time he will develop into an elite post defender for the future.
These Clippers Are Not Your Old Perennial Losers
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The Clippers have made the playoffs twice during their tenure in Los Angeles and have suffered some of the worst luck in terms of injuries, player personal and GM decision making but this group is ready to build a pedigree of success.
The days of constant losing are over and the Clippers, lead by Paul and Griffin, are ready to right the ship in LA fixing years of infamy under owner Donald Sterling.
The Clippers finally have the talent to compete and are now willing to spend money to re-sign worthy stars to build a franchise around. The Lakers may be the spot light of the town, but the Clippers will still be the more exciting team to watch that finally have the tools to win games.
The days of Lob City are over and this year's Clippers team is focused on winning a title not just winning over Los Angeles fans. Although the Lakers have improved their roster tremendously, the Clippers took a quieter and more team oriented approach this offseason, which will payoff with more victories next season.