LA Clippers Season Preview

16 10 2008

My NBA Pacific Division preview continues with the LA Clippers:

LA Clippers

2007-08 Standings 23 – 59, 12th Western Conference

2008-09 Predicted Record 28 – 54, 4th Pacific Division, 12th Western Conference

Projected Starting Five:  Chris Kaman, Marcus Camby, Al Thornton, Cuttino Mobley, Baron Davis

Sixth Man:  Ricky Davis

With Elton Brand gone, much of the Clippers low post scoring will now fall to Chris Kaman.

At the beginning of the offseason the LA Clippers made one of the biggest acquisitions of the summer, stunningly signing Baron Davis away from the Golden State Warriors. It was assumed that Elton Brand would quickly resign and the Clippers would have the nucleus to challenge for an NBA title. Then everything went to crap. Brand bolted to the Eastern Conference, signing with the Philadelphia 76ers. They then lost Corey Maggette to the Golden State Warriors as well. The Clippers were able to recover somewhat, acquiring defensive ace Marcus Camby from the Denver Nuggets for a wad of spit and not much else but Camby is no Brand and there is a sense that the Clippers are going to be in the cellar once again.

The Clippers are stocked with enigmatic players foremost of who is the ultra talented Baron Davis. On his day he is as unstoppable as anyone, powerful and when his shot is falling, unguardable. Yet he is too often a streak shooter, who will fall in love with the three rather than drive to the hoop. He has often been injured as well, a fact which has hurt his teams badly over the years.

At the centre position the Clippers are blessed with both Chris Kaman and Marcus Camby. They provide a dominant defensive presence inside, but while they are solid offensive players, neither has the skills nor seemingly the inclination to take over games offensively, something that will hurt them badly with Brand’s defection.

The enigmatic players are rounded out by Ricky Davis and Tim Thomas. Davis is terribly erratic and has a reputation as a selfish gunner. There is a reason he is now on to his 7th team in 11 seasons. Thomas is a powder puff player. He has the size to play in the NBA and teases with his brilliance, but it is simply a tease.

It’ll fall to the youngsters to give the Clippers fans hope. Al Thornton should get minutes at the starting small forward slot with Maggette now gone. He has the look of a future All Star about him. Eric Gordon is the prized rookie off the bench who will eventually replace Cuttino Mobley.

Sadly the Clippers once again have the feel of a lottery team.

Coach:

Mike Dunleavy is the coach and while he has experienced success in the past it’ll take all his skills to turn the Clippers around.

Bench:

The Clippers have a relatively weak bench that needs to be strengthened through trade, draft and free agency. Unfortunately they have players like Ricky Davis and Tim Thomas there, who while talented, might unfairly impact on the development of Eric Gordon.

Star Player:

Baron Davis was the big offseason acquisition and he will need to play out of his skull to carry the Clippers to the promised land.

Team MVP:

Can Chris Kaman become a more dominant force offensively? He needs to try and match some of the production lost with Elton Brand. If he can he should challenge for an All Star spot as well as give the Clippers a shot at the playoffs.

Final Prognosis:

The LA Clippers will once again be the other LA team. They’ll lose copious amounts of games, Ricky Davis will do something stupid and Marcus Camby will despair at his plight. They’ll challenge good teams on the odd night or two but ultimately they will fall well short again. 

 

You can find an index of past Previews here.

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