5 Upgrades Los Angeles Clippers Must Make to Be Legit Championship Contenders
With high flyers like Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers put on a show every game. It's not only a good show for the fans, but they are winning as well. They currently sit in 4th place in the Western Conference with the Denver Nuggets coming in hot right behind them.
They can't afford to lose games from here on out because of the very good teams that surround them in the standings.
The Clippers have done a solid job of competing with the upper level teams in the West but haven't always come out on the winning side. If they are going to win a title this year, then they have to play their best in the playoffs.
Here are five upgrades the Clippers need to make to put themselves in championship contention.
DeAndre Jordan Needs to Step Up
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DeAndre Jordan is an excellent up-and-coming big man in the league.
He is one of the best dunkers in the league but needs to become more versatile on the court. He is a young player that doesn't have enough moves in his arsenal to be one of the best centers in the league.
The Clippers need him to become an even better player in the future.
There are other big men around the conference, like Tim Duncan and Serge Ibaka, who do a variety of things for their teams. Jordan is a very talented player that hasn’t yet reached his ceiling.
If Jordan can step up in the playoffs, then the Clippers' chances of winning the title will increase.
Stay Healthy in the Postseason
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The Clippers have been hurt throughout the season by injuries.
From day-to-day illnesses to injuries that keep players out for weeks, the Clippers have had their fair share of health problems. It's important that the Clippers stay healthy from now till the playoffs.
An injury in the playoffs could hurt their chances of advancing to the next round.
The good thing is that the Clippers have a lot of depth in their roster, but losing a guy like Chris Paul or Blake Griffin would be a major blow. Injuries can also ruin a team's flow because of missing one of the pieces to the puzzle.
If the Clippers can stay healthy in the postseason, then that will better their chances of winning the title.
Defend Top NBA Players Better
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The Clippers haven't won certain games this year because they didn't defend well against the opposing teams' top players. In the two losses to the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Clippers allowed Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook over 50 combined points in each game.
Even though these are two amazing players, you have to defend them better if you are going to have any shot at winning.
When the playoffs come around and you face the Thunder or Heat, you can't allow their best players to score above their average. The two things you must do when facing teams is put your best defender on their best player and contest every shot.
Both of these things will put those players out of their comfort zone and lead to more missed shots.
Rebounding Needs to Improve
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Having a good rebounding team is essential to success in the playoffs.
It allows your team to have more second-chance baskets and gives the opposing team less of those chances. Also, it can allow to easy buckets, if the offensive rebound is close to the hoop.
The Clippers rank 18th in the league with 41.5 rebounds per game.
Certainly, this number can be better with big men like Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Jordan is a very tall player with an excellent wingspan, but he has the ability to rebound better.
Lamar Odom has done a very good job of grabbing boards this season, but players like Ronny Turiaf and Caron Butler have to attack the glass better.
Rebounding could be the difference maker on whether the Clippers win the title or not.
Make Free Throws at Crucial Times
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Free-throw shooting is one of the most underrated things in basketball.
When your team is up by a point or two against an opponent, you want your players to knock down free throws to extend the lead and improve your chances of winning. The Clippers have to be a better free-throw shooting team.
The Clippers rank 26th in the league in free-throw percentage, shooting 70.8 percent.
That number isn't very good in comparison to top Western Conference teams like the Thunder (1st) and Spurs (4th). Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are very unreliable from the free-throw line.
If the Clippers improve their percentages from the line, then that would really help them in the playoffs.