With the addition of Chris Paul to accompany the talents of All-Star forward Blake Griffin, fans of the Los Angeles Clippers have reason to be excited about the team for arguably the first time in franchise history.
But while the Clippers will be a much improved team this season and will likely be treating fans to playoffs games for the first time since 2006, the team still has questions surrounding them heading into the 2011-12 season.
Here are four questions facing the new and improved Clippers.
Let’s say theoretically that the Los Angeles Clippers struggle in their first season with Chris Paul and the team misses the postseason. Disgruntled fans will not be blaming Paul or Blake Griffin.
People will instantly start saying the team needs a more “sexy,” established coach to lead the likes of Paul and Griffin, pointing to Del Negro’s underwhelming run coaching Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls between 2008 and 2010.
Unless the Clippers have quick, substantial success, I can’t imagine Vinny roaming the sidelines for very long.
It doesn’t take a hardcore hoops junkie to realize the Los Angeles Clippers are going to score a lot of points this season. But at this point, what makes anyone believe they will be able to stop other teams from doing the same thing?
Chris Paul has always been considered an above average defensive point guard.
But the Clips ranked 20th in opponents’ points per game last season, in addition to ranking 18th in overall defensive rating.
It’s a little unreasonable to think Paul can come in and drastically improve the offense and the defense single-handedly.
Stats courtesy of: basketball-reference.com
Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and to some extent Chris Paul have little experience in big games.
Yes, the team does have battle-tested Chauncey Billups to help guide the youngsters.
But considering the team’s core is very much unproven, fans shouldn’t get too lofty with their expectations for them this season.
Unless the team really is cursed, and Blake Griffin and Chris Paul simultaneously suffer season-ending injuries during the team’s first game, the Los Angeles Clippers are going to be a tough team in the Western Conference this season.
But on the other hand, while they are no longer going to dwell in the cellar anymore, it’s not reasonable to think they are going to be the best team in the Western Conference, which some overzealous basketball fans believe to be the case.
Therefore, as usual, the answer lies somewhere in the middle. I expect the Clippers to finish as a fifth or sixth playoff seed in the West at season’s end.