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NBA 2015-16 Team Previews: Los Angeles Clippers – Dance Lessons With Ballmer

By Tamberlyn Richardson
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Los Angeles Clippers

Our NBA 2015-16 Team Previews continues with the Pacific Division. Next up it’s time to break down the Los Angeles Clippers:

Record:  (56-26) 10th in the Western Conference, 2nd in Pacific Division, Lost in 7 game series to Houston Rockets in 2nd round

Rank: Offense: 109.8 (1) Defense:103.0 (15)  Differential/Net: plus +6.9 (2)  Pace: 97.0 (10)

2014-15

Key Stats:

  • Jordan’s numbers last season were 11.5 points, 15.0 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game with a league high 71% Field Goal percentage and then there was his free throw shooting which was terrible: 39.7%!
  • The Clippers posted the best offense in the NBA, thanks to CP3 who orchestrates it
  • When CP3 is on court the Clippers are plus +12.2 and are minus -7.6 when he’s off. That the largest net rating on-off court differential (Curry is second)

Off Season Moves

Key Areas Needing Addressing:

  •  Depth
  • Finding ways to create offense when Paul isn’t on the court
  • Improvement on defensive end

Draft:  Branden Dawson (arrives via trade)

Player Additions/Players Re-Signed:

Players Exiting:

2015-16

Core Players:

Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Wesley Johnson , Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan

Key Reserves: Paul PierceLance Stephenson,  Josh Smith

Outlook

Rising Star: Watching Branden Dawson  play in the Orlando Summer League I was knashing my teeth at this prospect falling into the Clippers hands. When he was on the floor he was the most active, energetic and looked NBA ready. Not sure he’ll see much time given he plays the power forward position. That means he’ll be sitting behind Griffin and newly signed Josh Smith begging for minutes.

On The Bubble: After several season of high octane offense Doc Rivers is on the line to produce outside of the regular season. Since everyone knows I’m the anti-Clipper fan I’ll hope the moves Doc made back fire with all the crazy personalities. The thing is what the Clipper lack in post season play is what he would bring if he could play: tenacity, grit and toughness. Bottom line if Chris Paul gets injured for any length of time or they fail to get deep in the post season, it could mean Doc and the Clippers part ways.

X-Factor:  J.J. Redick reminds me of Rip Hamilton with a consistent 3-point shot. He is in constant motion on both ends of the court running through screens on defense and creating space on offense. He’s much more valuable than the Clippers discuss and he’ll have extra pressure this season with the loss of his partner Matt Barnes. Watch to see if that affects how teams score on them or makes it easier to guard him/the Clippers on defense. Obviously the Clippers are counting on him or otherwise they wouldn’t have let Barnes go who has been replaced by ex Laker Wesley Matthews. If Redick gets hurt the Clips will be in trouble because as good as The “Truth” is no matter what he tells you he won’t be able to deal with any type of speed on defense.

The no-brainer to add to this section would be Lance Stephenson, but I can’t see him putting up with being yelled at once by CP3. Remember when he used to hang out in the bird’s next in Indy? That was to get away from his teammates, and they were mild in comparison to the treatment he’ll get if he messes up in L.A. from CP3 & Griffin. I can’t see this combo working at all. I just hope Lance eventually finds a team he fits with because he does have talent that could blossom if nurtured correctly.

Best Case: The reach the Western Conference Finals and Steve Ballmer learns how to dance. (yeah I know I’ll be sobbing if that happens and I don’t mean the dancing!)

Worst Case:  A compilation of various things (and feasible ones) could derail the Clippers plans for the season:

  • Chris Paul and J.J. Redick get injured
  • The weird mix of personalities brought in doesn’t mesh (Stephenson/Smith/Pierce)
  • Jordan gets annoyed the first time CP3 yells at him (don’t kid yourself folks I saw it in preseason)
  • Teams across the board figure out how to stop the Clippers shutting down CP3 and they fall out of the playoffs

Okay so aside from the injury part I guess that’s more of a wish list, but it could happen.

Prediction:

Not to put too fine of a point on it, but retaining DeAndre Jordan was the Clippers biggest and best move this off season. He leaves and it could have destroyed the team. Sure it’s not as dire as losing someone like Chris Paul, but close.

Though I never fully saw how Jordan would work in Dallas I stand resolute in my belief how Jordan and his teammates handled the situation was below the belt. Emoji war and twitter pics aside the fact Jordan let Dallas sit for 5 days without any word in essence will likely be the reason Dallas misses the post season this year (not that you’ll find too many Rockets fans crying about that).

Arguably the most anticipated game of the season comes November 11th when Jordan and  buddies come to Dallas. Pretty much every fan will tune in for that to see the crowd reaction and whether Dallas can raise their game level to beat the over matched Clips.

Doesn’t it seem like Doc seemingly spent time hiding in the bushes outside the Toyota Center trying to sign all the Rockets free agents?  and was successful nabbing Josh Smith. He also added Prigioni and ex Rocket Chuck Hayes immediately after the Rockets couldn’t work the cap space to sign him. (hmm…. also make you wonder if even Doc is still affected by the Game 6 meltdown of his team?)

Doc has added depth, but unless he finds a way to keep the Clippers healthy and improve their defense they’ll once again be an offensive juggernaut in season and an early exit post season.

No matter how hard I try I’ll never be able to make a clear, non biased prediction of this team as I’ll always be hoping they don’t live up to their potential. I can appreciate the athletes on their team or the sheer genius of Chris Paul (who is still the NBA’s best point guard… hey the advanced stats prove that) or the craftiness of Redick. BUT, I can’t condone players who act like you would expect a team like the Spurs to act who’ve actually won 5 championships!

They’ll probably be amazing offensively again this season and they’ll probably get to the second round or perish the thought the Western Conference, but unless the zebra’s give them the game they won’t beat the Spurs, Warriors, Thunder or even the team the Clippers now love to hate: the Rockets in a Western Final. They don’t have the moxy to do it, CP3 can’t sustain 3 series of tough, physical basketball and their “others” just don’t have the extra it takes even with the “Truth” who’ll no doubt be spouting off how he was brought to LA to win them a title. Hey Paul, this is the Western Conference, not the East, “WE CAN HANDLE THE TRUTH!”

Games versus the Houston Rockets

  • November 7th at Staples Center in Los Angeles
  • December 19th at Toyota Center in Houston
  • January 18th at Staples Center in Los Angeles
  • March 16th at Toyota Center in Houston

Fansided Affiliate Site:  Clipperholics

Make sure you catch up on our entire Team Preview Series, our Houston Rockets Player Profile Series as well as our SCS Round Table Sessions to help you get through the early season. Start your morning with SCS Rocket Science Daily and visit us throughout the day to keep abreast of all your Houston Rockets news and updates.

Next: Rockets Preview

Next: Suns Preview

Next: SCS Complete Round Table Sessions

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