NBA Predictions 2011: Clippers Gain Much Needed Respect

Hayden KimCorrespondent IIIDecember 16, 2011

PLAYA VISTA, CA - DECEMBER 15:  Chris Paul speaks at a press conference introducing him as a member of the Los Angeles Clippers on December 15, 2011 at the Los Angeles Clippers Training Center in Playa Vista, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

With a trade for one of the best point guards in the league in Chris Paul, the Clippers not only gained a great leader, but mutual respect from around the league.

Paul will mark a new era in Clipper basketball, and as long as the team can avoid the infamous "Clipper Curse" in any way, we may witness the very "competitive balance" that Commissioner David Stern has wanted so badly.

The potential combination of Paul, Griffin, Butler, and Billups must come as exciting news for all Clipper fans—"Lob City," as Griffin described it. If the Clippers can stay injury free and can develop good team chemistry, the sky is the limit for this young and talented group. 

Now, how far can the Clippers go in the playoffs this year, you ask?

Well, the Los Angeles Lakers without Dwight Howard are down from last season, the San Antonio Spurs seem to be preparing for a rebuilding period with aging stars, the Phoenix Suns are sure looking to be at their lowest point in five years and the Memphis Grizzlies are beatable.

Besides the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks—who will most likely be the top teams in the Western Conference heading into the season—the opportunity is wide open for the Clippers to advance well beyond the first round of playoffs, depending on their seed and situation.

Now, who's the hottest ticket in Los Angeles, people say?

It's still the Lakers, but let's be clear, the Clippers are far from a joke now. In what Griffin called "Lob City," the Clippers will not only be an exciting freak show in a Paul-Griffin duo, but they will be a viable contender in the West.

Now that you think about what Commissioner Stern did (vetoed Lakers trade for Paul), it is a little more understandable. Yes, it was wrong for Commissioner Stern to essentially screw an organization that has only made the NBA that much better throughout the history of the game, but according to Commissioner Stern, the NBA needed more competitive balance and at the end of the day, that is exactly what he and the NBA got.

The Clippers are still the Clippers at the end of the day, but they are an organization that is about to go from being the Washington Generals to legitimate competition—just like Baylor Football and Robert Griffin III.

However weird it may be to admit the potential rise of the Clippers, you might as well accept it. The Clippers are coming, whether you like it or not.

And on behalf of the NBA, let's just hope that the Lakers figure it out soon, because at this point, there's no guarantee who's the king of Los Angeles, at least this season and who knows down the road?