The Los Angeles Clippers finished 40-26 in 2011-12 and qualified for the postseason for just the second time in the last 15 seasons. But after getting swept out of the second round by the San Antonio Spurs, the Clippers are looking to not only make the playoffs, but also to make a push for a championship.
By signing free-agent forward Grant Hill to a two-year deal, the Clippers should go from playoff contenders to championship contenders.
Los Angeles adds Hill to an already talented roster, featuring the likes of Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, Lamar Odom, DeAndre Jordan, Caron Butler, Jamal Crawford and Chauncey Billups. With Hill now in the mix, Los Angeles will get a versatile and experienced player who will help bring it all together.
A huge part of Hill's value is his playoff experience. That's especially key for Los Angeles, because while it aspires to be a perennial title contender, it's not a roster that has been through many playoff series together. Since Hill has been in the postseason seven different times, he'll help provide some much-needed experience.
And unlike some experienced players who prefer to lead by example, Hill has long been known as a leader in the locker room. So not only will he provide Los Angeles with a player with playoff experience, he'll also be a vocal presence, which is partially why Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro wanted Hill.
“With Grant, everyone always talks about his leadership qualities, his professionalism and the right mentality he brings to the court,” Del Negro said. “I have known Grant for a long time and we are expecting him to contribute on the court for us in a major way as well as continue to be that strong presence off the court that he always is."
Will Grant Hill help transform the Clippers into title contenders?
Despite playing in the NBA for 17 seasons, and being 40 years old at the start of the 2012-13 season, Hill's still a very capable player. Sure, he's not the same high-flying player he was in Detroit, but he still averaged 10.2 points on 44.6 percent shooting in 2011-12.
Hill will especially help the Clippers on the defensive end with his skills and ability to guard multiple positions. He received votes for the NBA's All-Defensive team last year as well as Defensive Player of the Year, an example of the recognition he receives for his defensive prowess. Hill can also guard any position from point guard to power forward.
Plus, given the Clippers' depth, Hill won't be asked to contribute more than he's capable of on the court. He'll be asked to provide a spark off the bench and help slow down the opposition's go-to offensive player.
On a team with more needs and less depth, Hill wouldn't be a good fit. But since Hill's areas of strength are where the Clippers are really lacking, it should be a match made in heaven, and one that will transform the Clippers into championship contenders.
Follow me on Twitter: @SimRisso