Now that the calender has rolled over into a new year, the NBA season is picking up steam as it nears the mid-way point.
The Los Angeles Clippers closed out 2012 by going undefeated in the month of December and Chris Paul has entered the MVP discussion. Jamal Crawford looks like a Sixth Man of the Year award candidate and the team has one of the best second units in the league.
So what will 2013 have in store for the Clippers? Here are five bold predictions for the new year.
Last season, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin gave the Los Angeles Clippers two of the five starters in the All-Star game for the first time in franchise history. This season the Clippers will send another player on the roster with CP3 and Blake.
Jamal Crawford is having one of the best seasons of his career and is going to make a run at the Sixth Man award. While his numbers do not stand out versus the rest of the players in the league, expect the Clippers to receive a little more love from the coaches and their reserve voting ballots. Considering the Boston Celtics sent four players in 2011, this is completely feasible.
After rattling off 17 straight wins, spanning the entire month of December, do not be surprised to see the Los Angeles Clippers go on another double-digit winning streak.
The last half of January will be the stretch of games to keep an eye on.
The Clippers begin their annual Grammy road trip the beginning of February and will need to rack up some wins before that grueling stretch. The team will only play two back-to-backs in the last half of the month and will face Portland and Washington twice and Toronto and Phoenix once. Those are six winnable games before the true test begins.
According to ESPN, the Los Angeles Clippers are currently in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Last season the Chicago Bulls were similarly in the top five in both categories and were seen as realistic title contenders.
Should the Clippers finish out the season maintaining this efficiency, they would be seen as a dangerous threat to dethrone Oklahoma City and earn a trip to the Finals.
Furthermore, the Clippers' depth and talent on both sides of the ball make this prediction extremely plausible.
LeBron James and Kevin Durant began the season as the two favorites to win the MVP award. However, since reeling off a 17-game winning streak and finishing the month of December undefeated, Chris Paul’s name has entered the discussion.
Paul is not putting up better numbers than he did while in New Orleans, but he is the catalyst of the team’s stellar play this season and has transformed the Los Angeles Clippers from the laughingstocks of the league into one of the elite.
The Clippers would likely have to finish with the best record in order to win the award over Durant and LeBron, but that is looking more and more realistic as the season nears the halfway mark.
The Los Angeles Clippers are one of the deepest teams in the entire league and that will play a major factor in the team’s postseason success. Thanks to the rotation's depth, the Clippers have the ability to match up with nearly every team in the league and can exploit their opponent's weaknesses.
Chris Paul provides the stability in the half-court offense, the bench can outscore nearly every other second unit, the roster is littered with athletic wing defenders and Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are athletic and strong enough to check most frontcourts.
All these reasons make the Clippers a dangerous opponent in a seven-game series, even against Oklahoma City and San Antonio.