What should fans know about CP3 and Co. this season?
With the start of the regular season just around the corner, every fan should get up to date on what looks to be the most exciting installment of Lob City yet.
Featuring a host of complimentary players alongside the electric Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, the Los Angeles Clippers are poised for what should be an exciting year with championship expectations. Since the acquisition of Paul in December 2011, Clippers fans have shown up in numbers, as the Clips have finished in the top 10 in overall attendance during his first two years in Los Angeles.
This year should be more of the same, as fans across the country turn out to watch some of the best League Pass All-Stars live. What should fans keep in mind for opening night? What is to look forward to, and what should Clippers fans be weary of?
Here are seven things every fan needs to know about the Clippers for the 2013-14 season.
All statistics used from ESPN.com, NBA.com and Basketball-Reference.com.
Will this be the year that DeAndre Jordan maximizes his athletic potential?
With new head coach Doc Rivers in the fold, the Clippers should develop one of the best defenses in the league.
Rivers’ Boston Celtics teams developed a penchant for tremendous team defensive, as defense and grit were the calling card of the veteran-savvy C’s. Since Boston’s 2008 championship season, Rivers’ teams have regularly finished in the top six in defensive efficiency.
Although the Clippers finished with the ninth-best defensive efficiency at 101 last season, they were a mediocre squad over the second half of the season. After the All-Star break, the Clips’ defensive efficiency ballooned to 104.2, finishing in the bottom half of the league.
One place where Rivers should help is on the three-point line. Last season, the Clippers allowed opponents to knock down 37.3 percent of their long balls, the fifth-worst mark in the league. Rivers’ undermanned Celtics’ squad held opponents to just 34.2 percent, the fourth-stingiest in the league.
The Clippers' biggest fan will be as loud as ever.
Given the excitement surrounding Lob City, the Clippers’ biggest fan might have trouble pacing himself early into the season.
2013-14 calls for the usual pyrotechnics of explosive dunks, broken ankles by Jamal Crawford and routine three-pointers from Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick. Clipper Darrell would be wise to ease into his loud cheers.
Fans in attendance of home games will be treated to the usual "Let’s Go Clippers, Let’s Go" chant as well as Darrell’s classic taunts to opposing players at the free-throw line. For the man with the voice that challenges the loud speaker, this season should have Darrell searching for throat lozenges after every game.
Eric Bledsoe will be missed in Lob City.
The centerpiece of the deal that allowed the Clippers to acquire Redick and Dudley, Eric Bledsoe will certainly be missed in Lob City.
The driver of A Tribe Called Bench, Bledsoe developed a reputation on the Clippers for making incredible plays in spite of the laws of physics. The league’s best shot-blocking guard routinely did the incredible, while locking up the opposing team’s best perimeter threat.
Bledsoe ensured that point guards would enjoy no respite against the Clippers. For 48 minutes a night, opposing guards would have to go up against Bledsoe and Paul. Although new backup point guard Darren Collison offers a bit more structure on offense, he cannot compete with the creative destruction that Bledsoe offers on a nightly basis.
Doc Rivers is a significant upgrade from Vinny Del Negro.
A longtime laughing stock in the NBA, the Clippers will finally have a legitimate Coach of the Year candidate this season.
With no disrespect to Larry Brown, Doc Rivers will be the most revered coach in franchise history. After years of ineptitude under Mike Dunleavy and questionable decisions under Vinny Del Negro, Rivers will flip the script on Clippers’ coaches.
Given his success on the Orlando Magic and the Celtics, Rivers should continue to develop the Clippers’ defensive potential while cultivating strong rapports with his players. Center DeAndre Jordan could be the biggest beneficiary of a new coach, as a newfound trust could certainly elevate DJ’s game.
Should the Clippers improve on defense and meet the expectations of a top seed in the Western Conference, then Rivers could earn his first Coach of the Year Award since 2000.
Some Lakers like Nick Young have already voiced their disapproval of the Clippers' plan to cover retired Laker jerseys and championship banners.
Under the leadership of Doc Rivers, the Clippers’ image overall continued with the organization’s decision to cover up the Los Angeles Lakers’ championship banners and retired jerseys during Clipper home games.
Despite the controversy, the move is a way to make Clipper games feel more like Clipper games, and erase their reputation as the little brother of the dominant Lakers. Late into the preseason, the move was met with some concern, as noted by ESPN.com:
New Lakers’ guard Nick Young questioned the move, “He [Rivers] can do that? ... For real? That’s disrespectful. We got to talk to Doc. He can’t have that. We got to do something about that.”
Ironically, Young helped contribute to zero of the Lakers’ 16 championship banners, and was a member of LA’s other team just two seasons ago. Nevertheless, expect to hear more about this alleged controversy later in the season.
Teams like the Grizzlies will continue to give the Clippers trouble.
Despite this summer’s roster overhaul, the Clippers failed to sign a defensive-minded backup big man.
The absence of a tough big, a major problem during the playoffs against the Memphis Grizzlies, could hamper the Clips again this season. Last postseason, the Clippers sorely missed the likes of Reggie Evans and Kenyon Martin, as Ryan Hollins and Ronny Turiaf were no match for the burly Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.
Although the Clippers will have a new defensive system in place, expecting Jordan and Griffin to hold their own again teams that go big might be unrealistic, especially while learning Rivers’ complex defensive scheme.
Unfortunately, the backup big men options of Hollins, Antawn Jamison, Byron Mullens and Louis Amundson do not offer the best defensive solutions.
The Grizzlies should continue to beat up the Clippers in the paint. Should the San Antonio Spurs play Tiago Splitter alongside Tim Duncan, they could cause problems for the Clippers. Even an Oklahoma City Thunder lineup featuring Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins will be difficult to match up against.
It would not be surprising to see the Clippers make a move to acquire a defensive-minded big man sometime during the season.
The Clips will once again be must-see TV in 2013-14.
The Clippers will again be one of the most exciting teams in the league and will be must-see basketball in 2013-14.
Whether it is precision passes from Paul, lobs to Jordan and Griffin, crossovers from Crawford or dramatic staredowns from Matt Barnes, Clipper Nation is eager to see Lob City in action. This should be the year that the Clips can combine their excellent talent with their championship aspirations in what should be a promising campaign.
Grantland’s Bill Simmons and Zach Lowe gave the Clippers an 83 out of 100 in their Annual League Pass Rankings, the third highest mark in the league, just behind the Chicago Bulls and the Golden State Warriors.
Expect the usual fireworks on offense with a new commitment to defense. 2013-14 should live up to its excitement.
Is it opening night yet?