Los Angeles Clippers Look Ready to Move Up to Varsity

Matt SmithCorrespondent IAugust 7, 2010

LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 6: Baron Davis #1, Chris Kaman #35, and Rasual Butler #45 of the Los Angeles Clippers celebrate during the game with the Los Angeles Lakers on January 6, 2010 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Clippers won 102-91.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Clippers have long been stuck under the huge shadow cast by that other team that plays at the Staples Center. And let's be real honest, they're never escaping it. 

However, it doesn't mean the Clippers can't change course and carve out some moderate success. With the changes in the Western Conference—Amar'e Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer heading east, and with the talent on the current Clippers roster—this could be the year they get out of lotteryville and leave the junior varsity ranks and step up with the big boys for a little postseason play.

It starts with good players and the Clippers have quality at every position. Baron Davis, at his best, can bully and dominate his position and can be as good as any point guard in the association (we're hoping for Davis at his best). Eric Gordon can play both the point and shooting guard position, and Randy Foye and rookie Eric Bledsoe add depth to the guard position.

Last years first pick overall Blake Griffin has the ability, size, strength and talent to be a perennial All-Star power forward provided he's healthy. Rasual Butler, Ryan Gomes and Craig Smith are all quality forwards. Butler can play shooting guard or small forward, and he stretches the floor with his three point capability. Gomes is a double digit scorer as well.

All-Star center Chris Kaman is coming off of a career year and is close to a 20-10 guy. Veteran Brian Skinner and the young athletic DeAndre Jordan both can contribute.

I think the Clippers have the talent on the floor and coach Del Negro has proven to be able to take a talented young team to the playoffs, there is no reason this team should not claim one of the eight playoff spots.

My pre-season Western Conference rankings

1) Lakers - The champs have gotten stronger...nuff said.

2) Mavericks - Team is very deep should be Lakers toughest competition.

3) Spurs - Was last season a fluke or is their window shut?

4) Thunder - Young, talented and on the rise...how far can they go?

5) Nuggets - Plenty of talent, not sure if it will translate into winning.

6) Suns - How much will losing Amar'e affect them?

7) Trail Blazers - Very deep talented team, can they shake the injury bug?

8) Clippers - The cupboard is full of talent and balance, time to put up or...

Am I crazy, are the Clippers ready to be competitive?  It's like a baby starts out wearing diapers then moves up to "pull ups" and then eventually wears grown up drawers. I'm just saying the Clippers are ready for their "pull ups"...Let me know what you think.