The Los Angeles Clippers were the highest scoring team in the league last year averaging 107.9 points per game. They were 3rd in assists and still had a steady defense finishing 14th allowing 101 points per game. In his first season with the team Doc Rivers didn’t make drastic changes. The previous year they won 56 games with Vinny Del Negro and last year they won 57 games. It was the first time in franchise history that they had back to back 50+ win seasons.
Chris Paul was the leader on the floor once again. He led the league in assists per game and steals per game. He was also first in assist-turnover ratio. He was masterful all season, always making the right play for the Clippers. He got everyone involved early and took over when it was needed. When he went down in January with a shoulder injury Blake Griffin stepped up and proved he was a superstar.
Paul missed 18 games due to injury. The Clippers were 12-6 during that span. Griffin stepped up as the leader of the team and had big games. He showed us that he was not just a dunker. He averaged a career high in points and assists. His rebounding numbers were slightly down but that’s only because DeAndre Jordan has become a better rebounder. Griffin greatly improved his free throw shooting, looking more comfortable in late game situations and hitting a career best 71%. His defensive effort was better with Doc Rivers and he will continue to get better in that aspect. When Paul returned in February Griffin got better, averaging 30 and 10 during the month.
Doc Rivers got the best out of DeAndre Jordan. He trusted him to play during the fourth quarter and DeAndre did not disappoint. He still struggles at the free throw line but he was a better defender and rebounder. Jordan led the league in rebounding and was third in blocks. If he can develop a post move or two he will be an All-Star soon enough. The Clippers also got great contributions from Jamal Crawford, J.J. Redick and Matt Barnes.
In the draft they picked C.J. Wilcox from Washington. He is a senior so he is an older player who might see time in the lineup. I thought they could use a bigger wing player at small forward or another big man. Wilcox can knock down shots and that will be his ticket to staying on the floor. Redick missed a lot of time due to injury last year and Wilcox should be ready to contribute if called upon.
During the off-season they did not resign Ryan Hollins or Danny Granger. They traded Jared Dudley and their biggest lost was Darren Collison. Collison was good when Paul got hurt. He scored 18 big points in game 4 against the Thunder to lead the Clippers to victory and prevent them from going down 3-1.
To replace Collison they picked up Jordan Farmar who should be a suitable backup for Chris Paul. Paul will take a rest during the season and Farmar will get some more time. Dudley could not hit a shot last year and his defense was less than stellar. They added Chris Douglas-Roberts to fill that role behind Matt Barnes. The Clips still needed another big man behind Griffin and Jordan. Glen Davis is serviceable but he is short. Adding Spencer Hawes was a good pickup. He has grown into a good three point shooter so the dynamic of the team will change when he is on the floor with Griffin or Jordan.
The Clippers have more depth at their wing positions this year. Glen Davis, Spencer Hawes and Ekpe Udoh should do well behind Griffin and Jordan. If Redick can’t stay healthy they have plenty of fire power off the bench. The Clips will win over 50 games once again, finishing the season with 57-59 wins.