Throughout the franchise’s history, there have been numerous disappointing seasons, perhaps more than most in league history. Although they have been neglected multiple times by the media, there have been plenty of star-studded, very talented Los Angeles Clipper teams.
Which season’s team is the most talented is a highly challenging debate, especially considering the last two years. The Clippers have never won a title, but that does not mean that some of the squads on this list did not disappoint. The real question is how the past teams stack up against the 2012-13 team, arguably, one of the best teams in Clippers history.
Larry Brown took over the Los Angeles Clippers halfway through the season and led a 22-25 team to the playoffs. Brown was able to connect with a deep Clippers roster, finishing 23-12 to close out the regular season.
That team was led by one of the most unique players in franchise history, Danny Manning. He was a versatile forward who could impact the game from all over the floor. His passing, scoring and work in the post were extremely efficient and productive. Manning teamed up with Ron Harper to provide a lethal one-two punch as the duo combined to score 37.5 points per game that season.
Although they had plenty of talent—Charles Smith, Doc Rivers, Ken Norman, Olden Polynice and Loy Vaught—the team sputtered out of the gates and lacked any real direction. Brown’s coaching job remains one of the most impressive in franchise history, as he is only the second coach to lead the team to back-to-back playoff berths.
Though the 1991-92 team was deep and talented, much like the 2012-13 squad, the expectations could not be more far apart.
The 2011-12 season is one that will live in Los Angeles Clippers lore for many years to come. The team’s front office was able to put together a package that landed Chris Paul just before Christmas, as the season was still in a lockout.
Paul’s arrival signaled a culture change that is nearly impossible to measure, and one that transformed a team with potential into one with championship aspirations. Blake Griffin finally had someone who could direct him and the young talent on the roster, someone who wanted to win more than anything.
Although this Clippers team was expected to make a push for the conference finals, it was swept by the San Antonio Spurs. The series definitely humbled the upstart Clippers, but also seemed to make them more determined to improve.
Debatably the most successful season in team history, the 2005-06 Los Angeles Clippers were a quarter away from the conference finals. Led by veterans Elton Brand, Sam Cassell and Cuttino Mobley, the Clippers fell short in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals against Steve Nash and the Phoenix Suns.
Down 15 entering the fourth quarter of Game 7, the Clippers were unable to make up any ground and simply could not stop Phoenix from scoring. However, the real culprit of the season’s demise came in Game 5 when the Suns won in double-overtime.
Perhaps the closest comparison to the star talent in 2012-13, this team was unable to defend a high-powered Suns offense. Even though the talent level is similar, the depth and overall defense of the 2012-13 squad provides more hope to advance to the conference finals.
Coached by the great Jack Ramsay, the 1974-75 Buffalo Braves were led by one of the greatest players in team history, Bob McAdoo.
Winning his second straight scoring title, Bob McAdoo would also go on to win the Most Valuable Player award that year. He could score in bunches and helped lead the Braves to the greatest three-year stretch in team history. In fact, that three-year span, 1973-1976, remains the only time the franchise has made the playoffs three straight seasons.
Bob McAdoo would team up with Randy Smith to form the most exciting combination of players in the history of the Clippers/Braves. Both players were supremely athletic and run-and-gunned their way through the Atlantic Division. Unfortunately, neither was able to lead the team past the first round in either of the three years.
Although the 1974-75 Braves rivaled the Clippers' current duo of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, they were never able to put together a meaningful postseason run and are now relegated to the second-best team in franchise history.
Throughout the history of the franchise there have been plenty of star players, but no team has had this much talent spread across its entire roster. All-NBA performers, multiple-time All-Stars, Olympic Team members and former Sixth Men of the Year, this team is as deep as any in the league and has arguably two of the top 15 players as well.
A deep bench allows the Los Angeles Clippers to play multiple styles and create mismatches all over the floor. That is one of the reasons why, for one of the few times in team history, the Clippers are considered championship contenders.
Ask any player on the team what the overall goal is, and odds are they will talk about winning a championship. The talent is there, the chemistry is elite and the only thing missing is the end result. Perhaps it will not be a disappointment to most if the Clippers do not win a title this year, but do not tell the team that.