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NBA 2016-17 Team Previews – Los Angeles Clippers: It’s Now or Never

By Tamberlyn Richardson
Sep 25, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3), forward Blake Griffin (32), center DeAndre Jordan (6) and head coach Doc Rivers during media day at the Clipper Training Facility in Playa Vista. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3), forward Blake Griffin (32), center DeAndre Jordan (6) and head coach Doc Rivers during media day at the Clipper Training Facility in Playa Vista. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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Sep 25, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3), forward Blake Griffin (32), center DeAndre Jordan (6) and head coach Doc Rivers during media day at the Clipper Training Facility in Playa Vista. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3), forward Blake Griffin (32), center DeAndre Jordan (6) and head coach Doc Rivers during media day at the Clipper Training Facility in Playa Vista. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 25, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3), forward Blake Griffin (32), center DeAndre Jordan (6) and head coach Doc Rivers during media day at the Clipper Training Facility in Playa Vista. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

 NBA 2016-17 Team Preview:  For the Los Angeles Clippers it’s now or never!

To prepare our readers for the regular season SCS  offers a series entitled NBA 2016-17 Team Preview for each of the Houston Rockets’ 29 opponents.  Who will return to the playoffs? Which team will fall from grace and who will be the Cinderella team?

Included in each profiles:

  • Where the team finished 2015-16
  • Key 2015-16 stats
  • Future draft pick status
  • Current and future salary rank
  • Off Season Moves
  • 2017 Free Agents
  • Schedule, NBA League Pass and Win Projection Ranking
  • Team Overview entering season (Starting 5, reserves and notable injuries)
  • When each team will play the Houston Rockets
  • Strengths, Weaknesses and Prediction

NBA 2016-17 Team Previews now looks at the Clippers who many peg to be a home court seed and many think could be the team to spoil the Warriors return trip to the finals.  Repeated years of disappointment surround the Clippers so the other big question on the table is if they don’t reach the Western Conference Finals this season will it finally be time to blow up the core.

NBA 2016-17 Team Preview – Los Angeles Clippers:

2015-16 Record: 53-29

Playoffs: Lost NBA Western Conference First Round (2-4) versus Portland Trail Blazers

Points Per Game: 104.5 (7th )

Opponent Points Per Game:  100.2 (7th)

Oct 27, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (6) plays with the crowd in the Clippers 114-106 win over Portland at Moda Center. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Pace: 95.8 (14th )

Offensive Rank: 108.3 (8th )

Defensive Rank:  103.8 (6th)

Three Point Rank:  36.4% (6th)

Rebounds: 42.0  (25th)

Assists: 22.8 (11th)

Steals: 8.6 (7th)

Blocks: 5.6 (10th)

Turnovers: 13.0 (3rd)

Next: Future postioning - draft, free agents

Oct 18, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard JJ Redick (4) during the second quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

2017 Free Agents

Restricted:

  • none

Unrestricted 

Future Draft Picks

See Real GM for full details:

Incoming:

  • 2020 second round draft pick from Cleveland

Outgoing:

  • 2017 first round draft pick to Toronto L.A. Clippers’ 1st round pick to Toronto (via Milwaukee) protected for selections 1-14 in 2017, 1-14 in 2018 and 1-14 in 2019; if the L.A. Clippers have not conveyed a 1st round pick to Toronto by 2019, then the L.A. Clippers will instead convey their 2020 2nd round pick and 2021 2nd round pick to Toronto [L.A. Clippers-Milwaukee, 8/26/2014; Milwaukee-Toronto, 6/25/2015]
  • 2017 second round draft pick to Boston L.A. Clippers’ 2017 2nd round pick to Boston [Boston-L.A. Clippers-Phoenix, 1/15/2015]
  • 2018 second round draft pick to Philadelphia or New York
  • 2019 first round draft pick to Boston

Average Age of Team: 29.9 years

Next: Off Season Moves

October 13, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Jamal Crawford (11) moves the ball down court against the Portland Trail Blazers during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Draft Picks

Round 1: Brice Johnson (25),

Round 2: Selected Cheick Diallo who was packaged in a trade for Diamond Stone and David Michineau

2016 Free Agents prior to July 1, 2016:

Unrestricted:

Moves made following July 1, 2016:

Incoming:

Exiting: 

Re-upping:

Next: Schedule, League Pass, Win Projection Rankings

Oct 18, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Austin Rivers (25) during the second quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Vegas over-under for wins: 53.5

Schedule strength:

As ranked by ESPN: 14th with 1.23. extra wins

As always the Clippers will spend a lot of time in the air (fourth in estimated air miles), but only two teams will play a higher portion of their games with a rest advantage over their opponent.

Games versus Rockets:

  • Friday December 30th at Toyota Center Houston TX at 8PM EST
  • Wednesday, March 1st at Staples Center, Los Angeles, 10:30PM EST
  • Monday, April 10th at Staples Center, Los Angeles, 10:30PM EST

Zach Lowe NBA League Pass Rank: 3rd

Same old Clippers, with their scripted precision. You can recite the steps: Chris Paul and Blake Griffin run a pick-and-roll with J.J. Redick curling up the weak side; Paul hits Griffin on the short roll; DeAndre Jordan’s defender slides up to help; Griffin lobs to Jordan for a dunk.

It’s like putting together a piece of prefab furniture: Each step is pretty clear, the final product looks nice, and it doesn’t survive quite as long as you’d hoped. With Griffin back, hopefully Paul spices it up by relinquishing the controls so Griffin can go to work as a point forward in semi-transition; Griffin was tearing up the league before injuries hit last season.

Next: Team Overview

Oct 27, 2016; Portland, OR, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) and Clippers

2016 Committed Salary

2016: $114,756,766 – 4th ranked

2017: $109,866,162 – 4th ranked

Team Salary Ranking as per Hoops Hype, and team salary overview also via Hoops Hype

Starting 5:

Point Guard:  Chris Paul – 19.5 points, 10.0 assists, 4.2 rebounds

Shooting Guard:  J.J. Redick – 16.3 points, 1.4 assists, 1.9 rebounds

Small Forward: Luc Mbah a Moute – 3.1 points,  0.4 assists, 2.3 rebounds

Power Forward: Blake Griffin – 21.4 points, 4.9 assists, 8.4 rebounds

Center:  DeAndre Jordan – 12.7 points, 1.2 assists, 13.8 rebounds

Reserves:

Guards: Raymond Felton, Austin Rivers

Wings: Jamal Crawford, Wesley Johnson, Alan Anderson, Paul Pierce

Bigs: Brandon Bass, Marreese Speights, Brice Johnson Diamond Stone

Injury News:

  • Brice Johnson is out indefinitely with acute herniated disc in his back
  • Paul Pierce has a right ankle sprain and is questionable for season opener

All injury news as per rotoworld

Next: Strengths, Weaknesses, Prediction

Oct 18, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) dribbles the ball during the first quarter against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Strengths:

Existing Core: Undeniably in season the core of Paul, Griffin, Jordan and Redick are solid. Factor in Sixth Man Jamal Crawford and the Clippers have one of the best cores in the NBA. Their problem has been transferring in season success to the post season.

Doc Rivers: Few coaches could have weathered the storm of previous owner Donald Sterling, early playoff ousts or Blake Griffin’s nonsense with the equipment manager better than Doc Rivers. That said, perhaps Doc would be better suited to just coaching as he’s trotted in copious small forwards over his term but never been able to find the one who would push the Clippers over the top.

Motivation: After years of disappointment either due to injury or an inability to step things up a notch there should be ample motivation to win.  Factor in Blake Griffin is in his contract season, so he’ll want to put big numbers. Paul, Redick, Anderson and Bass will also be free agents this summer. If that isn’t inspiration for the players to produce, nothing is

Weaknesses:

Lack of Success:  Chris Paul may be wondering if someone has put a hex on him given his inability to gain post season success. After a while something like that can begin to play tricks with your mind.

Doc’s GM Talent: At some point surely the powers that be with the Clippers are going to wonder if Doc has the goods to be the Director of Basketball Operations. He’s had years to find one player – ONE. Consistently the absence of a small forward has been the bane of the Clippers. Coincidentally the one position most relevant in this era of basketball is a small forward who can defend, hit from deep and defend multiple positions. The problem now is Doc has used up all his assets unless he’s willing to break up the core.  Perhaps he can shop Redick to find the small forward the Clippers so desperately need. But, would losing a strong 3 point presence only open up a can of worms in the backcourt and subsequently put undue pressure on Paul?

Health: Suffice to say the Clippers have suffered their share of injuries. While they haven’t ever dealt with multiple core injuries, their post season injuries have played a huge factor in their failures. Well, other than the year the Rockets knocked them off. I’ve often wondered if the Clippers have the mettle required to take the next step. They are so used to winning easily that when the post season hits it seems they don’t know how to turn their games up a notch.

Prediction:

More from Space City Scoop

Best Case: The Warriors struggle endures longer than expected and the Clippers move past them. Then in the post season they get lucky with a lanky team knocking off the Warriors clearing the path for them to the Western Conference Finals.

Worst Case: Doc didn’t do much to shore up his bench, or his defensive needs. Couple that with the prospect of another post season where the Clippers once again fail to advance.

Bottom line, this is the last kick at the can for Doc, CP3, Griffin and Jordan.  Anything less than a deep playoff run won’t be acceptable to the fan base, and quite frankly shouldn’t be.

FanSided Affiliate Site: Clipperholics

Next: Pelicans Team Preview

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