The Los Angeles Clippers have broken the superteam trend with their surprising success in 2012-13.
Thus far, the Clippers have compiled a record of 25-8. They recently ended a franchise-record 17-game winning streak in which they won by an average margin of 15.2 points per contest.
Perhaps what is most impressive about the Clippers' success is the fact that they haven't achieved it by embracing today's superteam methods. Instead, they've done so with one important word.
Instead, they're a throwback contender.
Led by a star, aided by promising youth and built with reliable veterans. On par with the classics and in contrast to today's methods of achievement.
By virtue of this approach, the Clippers have built the deepest team in the NBA. They've also created a legitimate title contender.
Using the Draft
At the conclusion of the 2007-08 NBA season, the Los Angeles Clippers rid themselves of their big contracts and decided to start over.
During that summer's 2008 NBA draft, the Los Angeles Clippers selected shooting guard Eric Gordon out of the University of Indiana. They selected center DeAndre Jordan in the second round.
This began the path to where they presently stand.
One year later, LAC selected power forward Blake Griffin with the top pick in the 2009 NBA draft. In 2010, they drafted Al-Farouq Aminu.
Griffin and Jordan are currently starters. As for Aminu and Gordon, they played an equally important role in sculpting what presently exists.
Rather than target big-name free agents, the Clippers traded Gordon and Aminu in order to acquire point guard Chris Paul (via NBA.com). They included former All-Star center Chris Kaman and a first-round draft choice in the deal.
In other words, the Clippers gave up talent to acquire talent. We all know where that has placed them.
Making Key Trades
Don't, for a second, assume that Chris Paul was the only key trade that the Clippers executed.
With the frontcourt rather thin and the backcourt overcrowded, L.A. was involved in a three-team trade that landed them Lamar Odom and shipped out Mo Williams (via ESPN). This created room for Eric Bledsoe to play and shine.
As for Odom, he has provided quality depth. After starting slow in November, he averaged 7.2 rebounds in 22.8 minutes during the month of December.
With that being said, the path to their present standing began well before the CP3 and Odom deals.
In February 2011, the Clippers traded Baron Davis to the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for Mo Williams (via ESPN Los Angeles). Most importantly, the Clippers rid themselves of the $28 million Davis was set to receive over the next two seasons.
In turn, L.A. prepared themselves to make a run at free agency. A proper run.
Depth Over Stardom
The Los Angeles Clippers could have approached free agency and landed groups of stars. Instead, they abandoned today's most common route.
The Clippers spread the wealth around and created the deepest roster in the NBA, bar none.
Over the past two seasons, the Clippers have signed Jamal Crawford, Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, Matt Barnes, Grant Hill, Ronny Turiaf, Willie Green and Ryan Hollins.
You may recognize those names, but none are superstars. In fact, a majority of the names listed are either in their 30s or career role players.
This is why the Clippers lead the NBA in second unit scoring, efficiency and defensive efficiency. This is why a team's reserves are just as important as their starters.
Los Angeles may be the home of stars, but the Clippers have not embraced the superteam mentality. Instead, they have built a contender by addressing every hole on their roster and then some.
Perhaps their success could end the trend entirely. If not, applaud the Clippers for building a team that is about more than a few individuals.
L.A. is only as strong as their weakest link. This is why they're dominant.