15 Bold Predictions for LA Clippers' 2013-14 Season
High expectations, untapped potential and an explosive offense.
Those terms are a fairly accurate way to describe the 2013-14 Los Angeles Clippers.
The team brought in plenty of new additions, mostly all upgrades over their predecessors.
There are plenty of storylines this season, especially as the Clippers are emerging as title contenders. This slideshow is set to pinpoint the bold predictions for the Clippers this season.
How many will come true?
The Clippers Finish First in Offensive Efficiency
The Los Angeles Clippers had one of the best offenses in the league in 2012-13, finishing third in offensive efficiency, according to hoopdata. This season, the offense should be equally as good, if not better.
JJ Redick, Jared Dudley and Darren Collison were brought in to improve the offense and provide relief in some areas the team desperately needed help with last season, such as consistency and perimeter defense.
All three players are good three-point shooters. Collison finished last season with the lowest three-point percentage at 35.3. Meanwhile, Redick shot 39 percent, and Dudley shot 39.1.
Not only will these additions help spread the floor, but they should help improve the Clippers’ offensive output, allowing Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to attack against a more spread out defense than in previous seasons.
Chris Paul Wins MVP
Although LeBron James has been dominating the MVP race over the past few seasons, Chris Paul is one of the challengers capable of prying the title away this year.
Paul finished fourth in voting last season with 289 points.
The Clippers won a franchise-best 56 games, but Paul only managed 16.9 points per game. While the team has added more offensive firepower, Paul’s numbers should improve as the floor becomes more balanced on offense.
The Clippers are primed to win 56-plus games this season, and if Paul can improve his scoring numbers and churn out a double-double average, James could be in a battle for the MVP race.
Jamal Crawford Wins Sixth Man of the Year
Had it not been for J.R. Smith’s amazing final month of the season, Jamal Crawford might have been named the league’s Sixth Man last season. Crawford fell short by 132 votes, but he ran away with second place.
The onus will, once again, be on Crawford to lead the Clippers bench.
Vinny Del Negro gave Crawford plenty of flexibility to attack and handle the ball off the bench last season. If Doc Rivers allows Crawford to replicate that role, Crawford will be in the running for the award again this season.
The Clippers Win 60 Games
After winning a franchise-best 56 games last season, the Los Angeles Clippers made plenty of changes.
Most notably, Doc Rivers was brought it to coach the team.
The Clippers look like one of the league’s best teams on paper, but they needed more guidance from the sidelines.
Considering the injuries that have plagued teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder, the Clippers could match last season’s win total and perhaps steal a few games early due to injury concerns.
The Clippers were one of the better road teams in the league last season, winning 24 games. However, if they can improve on their 32-9 home record, the Clippers should reach the 60-win mark.
DeAndre Jordan Makes All-Defensive Second Team
As soon as Doc Rivers took over the Los Angeles Clippers, he proclaimed DeAndre Jordan would be a Defensive Player of the Year Award candidate. The onus is obviously on Jordan to improve on defense, but Doc Rivers should immediately help in that regard.
While Jordan may not win the award, his play during the preseason suggests he will be someone to watch for All-Defensive team honors this season.
Through five games this preseason, Jordan is averaging 11.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.0 blocks per game in only 23 minutes.
Jordan needs to fare better on the glass, but if he can translate his preseason success to the regular season, Jordan has a chance to make the All-Defensive Second Team.
Blake Griffin Averages 20 Points and 10 Rebounds
Blake Griffin did it during his first two seasons, but his numbers tailed off during his third.
Expect Griffin’s numbers to revert back to his 20-point and 10-rebound average this season.
For as much criticism as Griffin received for not being able to connect from the foul-line early in his career, Griffin shot a career-high 66.1 percent from the line last season. While this can be attributed to his effort to develop his game in the offseason, it also shows his improvements as a shooter.
Griffin also posted career-high marks shooting from 3-9 and 10-15 feet.
If Griffin can put in more effort on the offensive and defensive glass and play more than his 32.5 minutes from last season with his improved jumper, he should be able to average a double-double again this year.
Doc Rivers Wins Coach of the Year
Rivers now takes over as the Los Angeles Clippers head coach 11 years after playing point guard for the organization.
Rivers should once again be in the running for Coach of the Year honors due to the Clippers’ impressively talented roster.
Rivers will be expected to help the team improve defensively, while providing stability from the sidelines, something the team lacked under Vinny Del Negro.
Fact of the matter is if the Clippers can improve on their 56-win season in 2012-13, they have a great shot at finishing with the conference's and league's best record.
Should that happen, Rivers stands a good chance at winning his second Coach of the Year award.
Clippers Sweep the Lakers
The Los Angeles Clippers had not swept the Los Angeles Lakers since the 1974-75 season. That is until 2012-13.
The Lakers are fighting through turmoil this season. It will be their first full season without the magnificent Dr. Jerry Buss leading the organization and Kobe Bryant headlining the opening night roster in what seems like eternity.
Meanwhile, the Clippers are coming off one of their best seasons ever, have one of the league’s most potent rosters and are finally, absolutely, the best team in Los Angeles.
This spells trouble for the reeling Lakers, as the Clippers are primed to sweep the season series for the second straight year.
Clippers Lead the League in Point Differential
This is a case based on internal improvement by the Los Angeles Clippers and outside regression by teams like the Miami Heat and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Last season, the Clippers finished third in differential with a plus-6.5 points per game rating.
Meanwhile, the Heat finished plus-7.9, and the Thunder finished at plus-9.2.
The Clippers have clearly improved offensively this summer, but there is tons of potential for them to improve defensively if DeAndre Jordan can protect the rim.
Still, it remains to be seen how well the Heat can play, especially if Dwyane Wade plays limited minutes at point this season. The Thunder will have to initially cope without Russell Westbrook due to his knee injury.
If the Clippers can improve defensively, there is no question they can compete to lead the league in point differential.
Management Will Trade for a Forward/Center
For as much improvement as the Los Angeles Clippers’ management made to the roster this summer, there remains a weak spot in the frontcourt.
The team sorely lacks another player who the guards can dump the ball to on the block and have create his own shot.
Outside of Blake Griffin, the Clippers do not have a reliable post-scoring option. However, there could be a few bigs on the market this season.
Marcin Gortat seems like one of the most likely candidates to be traded this season.
The Phoenix Suns are clearly in rebuilding mode, and Gortat is more than capable of scoring in the pick-and-roll, on the block and solid defending.
Look for the Clippers to be in the market should the Suns decide to deal Gortat and his expiring contract.
JJ Redick Will Finish Top Five in Threes Made
As perhaps the most important acquisition this summer by the Los Angeles Clippers, JJ Redick has a chance to make an immediate impact on the team’s offense.
Redick should see plenty of open looks from ball reversals, pin-downs and kick-out situations.
Last season, Redick made 165 threes playing for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic. No disrespect to either team, but the Clippers will provide Redick a far better situation to put up solid numbers.
Based on last season’s three-point leaderboard, Redick would have needed to make 20 additional threes to finish in the top five. That should be more than attainable if the Clippers offense performs as well as expected, and Redick’s role is much like Ray Allen’s with the Boston Celtics under Doc Rivers.
Darren Collison Will Make Fans Forget About Eric Bledsoe
While he did not have a poor season with the Dallas Mavericks in 2012-13, Collison struggled to hold onto his starting point guard role due to up-and-down play.
Now that he is back home in Los Angeles, and once again backing up Chris Paul, Collison should be able to play to his strengths in a reserve role with the Clippers.
For as exciting as Eric Bledsoe was in the open floor and on defense, he has yet to prove he can run an offense, unlike Collison.
The UCLA product finished last season with an efficiency rating of 13.74, according to hoopdata. Meanwhile, Bledsoe earned a 10.33 rating.
Collison provides solid defense, is equally quick with the ball in his hands and has proven that he can attack and finish at the rim.
In 2012-13, Collison converted an astonishing 66.9 percent of his attempts at the rim.
DeAndre Jordan Plays 30 Minutes Per Game
There were multiple reasons why DeAndre Jordan only played 24.5 minutes per game last season.
From free-throw shooting to missed defensive assignments, Jordan seemed to lose all confidence in himself. Playing limited minutes was simply a way for the team to put more productive players on the floor.
That needs to change this season, and from all accounts, it seems as though Doc Rivers will give Jordan every opportunity to stay on the floor.
Rivers has raved about Jordan’s potential, calling him "a game changer defensively," according to ESPN’s Arash Markazi.
The Clippers will need Jordan to be the backbone of their defense if they expect to win the conference this season.
Jordan’s development this summer is extremely important, but it is also important for Rivers to let Jordan develop on the floor as well.
Matt Barnes Improves on Last Season’s Averages
One of last season’s breakout performers, Matt Barnes, had one of the best seasons of his career despite signing for the minimum late in the summer.
Barnes scored a career-high 10.3 points per game, grabbed 4.6 rebounds and shot 46.2 percent from the floor.
Barnes will likely play the same role he did last season: a combo-forward off the bench who brings energy, toughness, rebounding and floor spacing.
Additionally, Barnes will see plenty of time in Rivers’ small-ball lineups at power forward.
As long as the Clippers bench is allowed to play at the same pace it did last season, Barnes will find plenty of opportunities to score in transition.
Also, look for Barnes to pull down more than 4.6 rebounds per game this season, as Rivers will need Barnes to contribute on the glass.
The Los Angeles Clippers Win the NBA Title
Very few times in the history of the franchise has the team been in position to contend for a championship. This is definitely one of those rare opportunities.
The Los Angeles Clippers have an exorbitant amount of perimeter talent, two superstar players, plenty of shooting to fend off double-teams and an excellent coach.
The last missing ingredient is the play on the floor matching the talent and potential of the team.
The Clippers will have plenty of competition just to get out of the Western Conference. However, the team finally looks mature enough and has developed enough chemistry to beat the best teams the league has to offer.
Heck, if half the items on this list come to fruition, the Clippers may be the favorites to win the title.