There are definitely sky-high expectations for the Clippers this season. The Chris Paul trade not only has many fans and analysts believing the team will have many more wins than last season, but some also believe they may even be better than the other team in Los Angeles this year.
This team has an excellent balance of young talent mixed with seasoned vets. It is extremely rare that in one offseason a team could have the Rookie of the Year and add three veterans that have been to the playoffs a combined 18 times to their starting lineup.
With only a couple days left before the season starts, this Clippers will need to learn to gel on the fly. While most teams will use their off days to rest their players due to the compact season, it will be interesting to see how Vinny Del Negro mixes in practices to help his team learn each other's strengths and weaknesses.
Here are my expectations for how each player on the Clippers will perform this upcoming season.
When the Clippers brought CP3 to Los Angeles, they instantly became serious contenders in the Western Conference. He is possibly the best PG in the entire NBA.
He is extremely quick with the ball, as well as one of the most dynamic scorers in the league. Paul also brings intensity on defense that the rest of the team will feed off of. I think Paul will flourish with his new team and even put up career highs in some major statistical categories.
Projected Stats: 18.1 PPG/11.8 APG/4.9 RPG/2.4 SPG
When the Clippers claimed Billups off waivers, most people believed he would be pissed off and cause trouble before he even arrived. This has not been the case, though. Not only does Billups appear to be enjoying his new home in L.A., but he has even come out and given extreme praise for his new backcourt mate, Chris Paul.
I believe Billups will be extremely effective in his new role with the Clippers. Since he doesn’t need to run the offense with Paul there, I believe Billups will have one of his best scoring seasons of his career.
Projected Stats: 17.4 PPG/3.8 APG/3.0 RPG/1.1 SPG
After missing the Mavs’ championship run last season with a knee injury, you know Caron Butler will be hungry to come back and make a title run of his own. I was shocked when Butler left the defending champs for the Clippers, but it turns out he may have made the right decision after all.
When Butler is healthy, he has shown he is one of the best scorers in the league. He has a career average of 16.6 PPG and is also a solid contributor on the glass with just under six RPG for his career. Butler’s chronic knee injury has definitely slowed him down on defense quite a bit, but he’s shown when healthy, he is able to get more than two SPG.
Projected Stats: 15.5 PPG/2.1 APG/5.0 RPG/1.7 SPG
No one will benefit more from the addition of Paul than Blake Griffin. He has already deemed the new Clippers “Lob City” for obvious reasons. Griffin definitely understands how great Paul is, and no one was more excited than he was about the trade. If you haven’t seen the video yet of Griffin finding out about the trade, it’s a must-watch.
Griffin was already amazing in his rookie season, but I expect him to explode this year. Paul draws so much attention in the paint that defenders are going to have no choice but to rotate off Blake or give up an easy layup. Expect another season of highlight reel dunks from Griffin this year.
Projected Stats: 24.2 PPG/3.4 APG/12.5 RPG/235 Dunks
DeAndre Jordan will be the other beneficiary of “Lob City." With the loss of Chris Kaman in the trade, Jordan is really the only serviceable center on the roster. Jordan will be relied on to play the majority of the center minutes for the Clippers this season.
Luckily for Jordan, the Clippers have many scorers around him, which will allow him to play to his strengths—rebounding and defense. Jordan will put up career highs and lead the team in both categories this season. I expect Jordan to look a lot like Tyson Chandler did when he played with Paul from 2006-2008.
Projected Stats: 8.8 PPG/0.4 APG/9.1 RPG/2.0 BPG
Williams will most likely play the sixth-man role for the Clippers this season. This may take a little adjustment for the eight-year pro, who’s started almost every game he’s played in the past six seasons. If he can accept his new role, though, I see Williams in serious contention for Sixth Man of the Year.
Not only will he have to adjust to his new role of coming off the bench, but Williams also will most likely see the majority of his minutes at SG instead of PG with the addition of Paul. I think this may be helpful to Williams, though, as he will now get to focus on what he’s best at: scoring. Mo Williams will have an extremely important role on the Clippers this year, even if he’s getting moved to the bench.
Projected Stats: 14.1 PPG/4.3 APG/2.9 RPG/0.8 SPG
Eric Bledsoe found himself in a very unfortunate circumstance this offseason due to the lockout. Most players use the offseason to rehabilitate their body and strengthen themselves for the upcoming season. Bledsoe needed surgery on his knee during the offseason, but was unable to consult or get treatment from any of the team doctors.
It is believed the surgery was successful, but Bledsoe is expected to miss at least the first month of the season. The Clippers clearly like him, though, and Bledsoe showed flashes of talent throughout his rookie season. When he his healthy, expect Bledsoe to play around 20 minutes off the bench and come in whenever Paul needs a breather.
Projected Stats: 7.1 PPG/4.1 APG/2.5 RPG/1.5 SPG
Randy Foye will definitely suffer the most from everything that happened this offseason. Not only did the team add a PG who will command almost 40 minutes of playing time per game, but they also added another veteran guard who will steal all the minutes Foye could have gotten from the loss of Gordon. The addition of CP3 will also mean that Mo Williams will have to slide over and play many of his minutes at SG.
Randy Foye is a good player, but I see him putting up career lows in points and assists this season due to his lack of a role. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Foye requested a trade or at least left the Clippers as an unrestricted free agent after the season is over.
Projected Stats: 5.8 PPG/1.9 APG/1.1 RPG/15.1 MPG