With common conjectures firmly in place, the Chris Paul trade that landed the veteran point guard with the Los Angeles Clippers has almost instantly shifted the power in LA towards Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.
With the acquirement of both Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler in the preseason as well, the Clippers are readily able to contend with the best the Western Conference puts forth in a rushed regular season.
There are still questions circulating the validity of the Clippers and if they should be enabled for praise before they even play a regular season game. The same thing happened with the Miami Heat.
Of course, the huge difference between the two rosters is that the Clippers have aligned themselves with two superstars and a gang of role players and not composed a Big Three.
Still, the questions linger and in a preseason meeting against the Lakers Monday night, the little brother squad hoped to prove a lot of people wrong about what they would not be able to do because of a lack of cohesiveness, chemistry or anything else that does not have to do with professionalism and raw, individual skill.
There were a few eyes opened as well as a few questions answered on either side of the court as both LA teams squared off in a duel of the new-look, don’t-quite-know-what-to-think-yet teams.
There are more than a few issues that the Los Angeles Lakers must address, but let us envision what the Los Angeles Clippers will be like in the regular season that is vastly approaching. There is one thing that we know that was suspected to disappear with shooting guard Eric Gordon.
The Clippers sure can shoot the three, can’t they? LAC shot for 46.4 percent from behind the three-point line, while the Lakers struggled to maintain offensive chemistry for longer than a little while. The rotating door of players on and off of the bench did not rattle the mentality of the Clippers one bit as veterans like Paul and Billups made statements early on.
There is no question that Billups is playing for the respect he most definitely feels he deserved with the New York Knicks that he did not receive when they waived him.
Well, well, well New York. Who is looking like the cast-out now?
Even if Billups was playing for the sole reason of embarrassing a questionable decision by the Knicks’ front office, his contributions said something that many felt had been lost in the illusion of his age. Billups is no schmuck and had NY noticed that before they let him go, they would not be chasing an overrated guard with low regarded work ethic and back problems like Baron Davis.
The funny thing being that Davis is not even slated to start anytime soon for a franchise that so desperately needs help at the guard position or at least an ounce of leadership that no one else can provide.
Chauncey Billups: 23 points, 3 steals, 3 assists, 4-of-6 3-point FG
Those are numbers that any coach, especially Vinny Del Negro, likes to see from a new addition veteran that has been questioned. But, another huge playmaker that the Clippers are thanking the basketball Gods they have is Paul.
While there should have not been reservations about what he could bring to the franchise, you have that rotten apple that spoils the bunch. There is always going to be that one bitter fan that feels like Paul is just not good enough to make much of a difference with the Clippers, but could have dominated with the Lakers.
He’s overrated. He’s on the downward side of the hill. He just can’t do what he used to.
After watching the amount of intensity Paul put forth in a preseason game against a team that was probably his first trade choice, it is safe to say that all of those statements have quickly been shot down. Paul is no gimmick, nor is he just another shiny name to add to a roster that needs so much more.
Against the Lakers, a team with a lot to prove in very little time, Paul did what he naturally did with the New Orleans Hornets. He created excellent shot options for his teammates while showing off his own scoring ability around the rim and on the perimeter.
Chris Paul: 17 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds, 5 steals
Another huge character that the Clippers have to look out for is the obvious and sometimes undefendable Blake Griffin.
The Clippers won the exhibition matchup against the Lakers 114-95, and Griffin never truly got going with only 12 points and five rebounds on the night. Unlike Andrew Bynum’s everlasting potential argument with the Lakers, Griffin has already proved how strong he can be at any time during the season. He was the Clippers' most solid scorer last season, his first season after an injury benched him his entire rookie year.
When Griffin is actually granted a rhythm in the regular season alongside Billups and Paul’s scoring ability, the team will be unstoppable, and that is not factoring in players like Butler, Jordan, Mo Williams and Trey Thompkins, who also stood out against a struggling dynasty.
The LA Lakers have a lot to work towards if they want to head to the NBA Finals, and after watching them play against the Clippers, the rivalry has been renewed. Let the games begin, and pick sides as you may.