Can the Los Angeles Clippers' Current Roster Win a Title?

Maxwell OgdenCorrespondent IIISeptember 6, 2012

MEMPHIS, TN - MAY 13:  Chris Paul #3 and Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers converse during a timeout against the Memphis Grizzlies in Game Seven of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum on May 13, 2012 in Memphis, Tennessee.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The expectation of a championship in Los Angeles has long been reserved for the storied Lakers franchise. The cross-hallway rival Los Angeles Clippers, meanwhile, have been the laughing stock of the NBA longer than they've been in contention for a mere postseason berth.

Entering the 2012-13 NBA season, those lowly Clippers have joined their Staples Center counterparts in the dangerous waters of high expectations. The question is, do these theories of success hold any value?

With Chris Paul as their leader, the answer many will leap to is yes. The fact of the matter is, Chris Paul has made it past the first round of the postseason on just two occasions.

Both times he's done so, Paul has fallen to Tony Parker and the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals.

For the Los Angeles Clippers to make a run after the title, it will take more than CP3's efforts and production. For Vinny Del Negro's crew, it will require a well-rounded effort with each and every player fulfilling his role to the greatest extent.

Something this roster simply cannot guarantee.

There is no denying how many quality players the Los Angeles Clippers possess. Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler and Jamal Crawford are all top-tier veterans with postseason experience.

Unfortunately, each one of those players also has a long history of injury.

Should these players remain healthy, the promise is there. The issue, however, is not resolved.

This roster is thin in the frontcourt and, despite its starting talent and athleticism, has a tendency to be exploited in that area. With Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan virtually alone on the roster, it's not hard to understand why.

Reserves at the position during the 2011-12 NBA season were veterans Reggie Evans and Kenyon Martin. Both players had a surplus of postseason experience, which was on full display as they helped lead the Clippers to their best season of the century.

This time around, the players backing Griffin and Jordan are far from reliable.

The mercurial Lamar Odom is coming off of the worst season of his career. While optimists project him to turn things around, that's far from guaranteed. With shaky secondary options in Ryan Hollins and Ronny Turiaf, there is a reason for pessimism.

Ronny Turiaf may have been on the Miami Heat when they won the title in 2011-12, but that does not mean he rounds out a championship contender.

This is not to rule out the possibility of a title coming to Los Angeles, as the Clippers are better suited than most NBA franchises. The fact of the matter is, this team lacks a true low-post scoring option and has no shooting guard.

Jamal Crawford, Chauncey Billups and Eric Bledsoe are simply solid enough players that they can split time at the position.

In a conference that plays home to Kobe Bryant, Manu Ginobili and James Harden, that deficiency is of more significance than one might assume. Although the idea of two primary ball-handlers in every rotation sounds ideal, let's not fool ourselves on how important it is to play defense.

Regardless of how solid the likes of Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups and Eric Bledsoe may be on that end of the floor, none of the players listed can be expected to shut down an elite shooting guard. Should the Clippers have to play the Miami Heat, that struggle becomes all the more severe.

The fact that Caron Butler is injury-prone and his backup is the equally fragile Grant Hill only sparks further reason for concern. It also exploits this team's greatest disadvantage, regardless of which opponent it plays.

On paper, this roster looks to be of elite status. With a severe learning curve ahead and a long history of inconsistency from their key players, however, the Los Angeles Clippers are not fit for a title run.

Not with their current conglomeration of talent.