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Chris Paul Trade: Why the LA Clippers Are Locks to Make the NBA Playoffs

Kelly Scaletta@@KellyScalettaFeatured ColumnistDecember 15, 2011

NEW ORLEANS - JANUARY 13:  Chris Paul #3 of the New Orleans Hornets fights to keep the ball away from Eric Gordon #12 and Craig Smith #5 of the Los Angeles Clippers at the New Orleans Arena on January 13, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Hornets defeated the Clippers 108-94.  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 Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The acquisition of Chris Paul makes the Clippers a lock to make the NBA playoffs. The only question now is not whether they can go, but how far can they go? While it's unlikely they'll be able to make it past the Conference Finals their first year together, getting that far is not out of the question. 

While Paul is the perfect final piece, let's not get confused. He is not the only piece. There are plenty of pieces that have come together. 

It started with the draft. DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin give the Clippers two players with an incredible ability to finish at the rim, and considering Paul's precision passing, that's almost unfair. There will be, without question, multiple thunder-dunks at every Clippers game this season. 

Then the Clippers added three more key players this offseason. 

First, they added Caron Butler at the small forward spot. Butler is a player that legitimately knows how to score the ball, particularly from that oft vilified long two range. While that is the most inefficient shot in basketball it's a necessary to have someone who can score from there to help spread the court. 

Then, they added Chauncey Billups through the amnesty waiver. While it was presumed that he would enable the Clippers to include Eric Bledsoe in the trade, in reality, it freed up Eric Gordon in the trade. Billups gives them a terrific perimeter defender who can handle the ball and shoot from long range. 

Finally, they now have Paul, one of the top two or three (depending on your needs) point guards in the league. Paul doesn't just slip into a team that is loaded with stars, he slides into one loaded with players that are ideal for his skill sets. 

He can penetrate and pass as well as anyone. His real skill is being able to find the person with the best chance to score and feeding them the ball, and when there isn't anyone, being able to finish himself. With the weapons surrounding him, the latter is not likely to happen often. 

In his illustrious career Paul has never been surrounded by this much talent, and this promises to be the best Clippers team ever. 

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