6 Biggest Questions Facing the L.A. Clippers Before Training Camp
Faced with an uphill battle of competing with the Western Conference's best, the Los Angeles Clippers hope that a reloaded roster will have them amongst the league's elite in 2012-13.
There are numerous variables surrounding this team. From Griffin's health to the starting shooting guard, head coach Vinny Del Negro needs to get the team in order before opening night.
Here are the six biggest questions facing the L.A. Clippers heading into training camp.
6) Where Does Eric Bledsoe Find Minutes?
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The Clippers utilized Paul's playmaking with Bledsoe's motor to form one of the most dynamic hybrid backcourts in the game.
With Chauncey Billups returning from injury and Jamal Crawford looking for a legitimate role in the rotation, Bledsoe might be the odd-man out.
Coach Del Negro should consider playing more three-guard lineups this season.
A squad featuring Paul, Billups or Crawford, Bledsoe, Griffin and Lamar Odom could have the speed and versatility to run other teams into the ground.
Finalizing the rotation will be crucial for Lob City's coaching staff in the upcoming months.
5) Which Lamar Odom Did the Clippers Get?
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By parting with Mo Williams and acquiring Lamar Odom, the Clippers alleviated part of the logjam in the backcourt, and they finally got their hands on the stretch-4 that they have so desperately been seeking.
With strong ball-handling skills and a high basketball IQ, Odom has the capacity to play in all sorts of different rotations.
However, how Odom will play this season is yet to be seen.
If Lamar Odom can return to his form from a few years ago, then the Clippers could be one of the biggest winners of the offseason.
4) Is Chauncey Billups Healthy?
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With Chauncey Billups healthy and starting, the Clippers were a one of the most dangerous teams in the league last season.
Billups gave the backcourt some nice stability by playing alongside Chris Paul.
His shooting proficiency forced defenses to stay honest, and he gave the team another coach on the floor. Caron Butler was perhaps the biggest benefactor of Billups' game, as he started the season on a torrid pace.
Off the court, Billups is one of the team's biggest locker-room guys.
That the Clippers dressed Billups' locker for every game even after he got injured is a testament to the respect that he commanded.
Billups provides the intangibles that the Clippers need this season. Having him back and 100-percent healthy will be critical for the team moving forward.
3) Has DeAndre Jordan Improved?
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After signing a massive contract extension just before the 2011-12 season, center DeAndre Jordan has been largely a disappointment for the Clips.
Jordan's 4.5 PPG and 5.3 RPG were wholly underwhelming, as was his atrocious 52.5 free-throw-shooting percentage last postseason.
DJ's development is key for the Clippers, as he gives them some nice balance with Blake Griffin in the frontcourt.
2) Who Starts at Shooting Guard?
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Without a prototypical shooting guard in the lineup, the Clippers will be looking to plug in either Chauncey Billups, Jamal Crawford or Eric Bledsoe at the 2-guard this season.
Billups is the incumbent starter, but if he is not back from injury by opening night, then Del Negro will have to make some difficult choices.
The coaching staff has to do a decent job of managing the team's egos, as Billups is among the most prideful players in the league. Bringing him off the bench could have negative ramifications for his psyche.
Crawford has a history of success coming off the bench, and Del Negro will likely look to use him as a sixth man.
Consistency from the starting lineup will be of chief importance this season. It will be on Del Negro to get the starting lineup squared away by the end of training camp.
1) How Is Blake Griffin's Knee?
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Clipper Nation is collectively holding its breath on the status of Blake Griffin's knee.
What would have been an incredible experience and exercise in development for BG turned into two months of rehab in Los Angeles.
Griffin needs to return to his explosive self to be the power player that the Clippers need this season.
How strong he comes back will have a crucial impact on the team's success in 2012-13. The Clippers will need everything they've got if they want to make it past the second round of the playoffs.