New season, same mission. The Clippers are back and they’re done hearing all that chatter about Durant and the “powerhouse” team up in the bay area. They are here for one thing and one thing only, getting that ring. No, I know, I know, we’ve all heard this before. But let’s just stop for a second and take a quick look at if they even have a chance of doing it this year.
Okay, so let’s just get out of the way that it would be ridiculous to even suggest they didn’t have the talent to be top contenders. Say what you will about them, this team easily has one of the most dynamic trios in the game with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan. Things haven’t changed, but improved from last year. Paul has been open about how he is ready to proceed with not only proving he is capable of clearing the second round, but fulfilling the goal of winning an NBA championship. Even on JJ Redick’s podcast, The Vertical, he states he has a one-track mind and that is simply to win a title.
Add the factor that he’s not trying to do this just for himself and his satisfaction: “I would love to do it for our team and everybody that would be involved. But, even more so than me, and you know how I am about my family, I want to win so badly for them [family]. No, like for real…my mom, my dad, my wife, my brother…Everybody that’s along for the ride.” Yeah, that’s some motivation right there.
Next up, we have to discuss Blake Griffin, who comes back from having probably the toughest season of his career; the suffering of a quadriceps tear and then dealing the Clippers another blow (yes, pun intended) by breaking his hand during the infamous Matias Test incident. I will say, however, that during the Clippers Media Day, he announced that he’s ready to go and back at 100%.
And it seems that while he was recovering, he had a lot of time to work on his shot, something that Doc commented on seeing much improvement with, “When you’re injured, all you can do is shoot. So, that’s the one thing he’s done a lot. That’s what we wanted him to work on and it looks good.” Dude that’s hungry to get back in the game, feels 100%, and now has a jumper? Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes out crazy strong this season.
Don’t worry, I did not forget DeAndre. He’ll probably continue to be a defensive force (given) and hopefully has worked on those free throws because I don’t think I can stand to watch another 43% season (c’mon, I had to. And you know you were thinking it). Add one of the best shooters in the game with JJ Redick and a sixth man that can outshine most with Jamal Crawford…offensive heaven.
Last but not least, we can’t forget about the man that not only can attest to the pressures that come along with being on a journey for a title, but knows exactly what it takes to do so, after winning one with the Celtics in 2008. Remind me again who the coach was on that team? Oh, that’s right: Doc Rivers. These two made it very clear that they are not phased by any superteam.
“I know history very well in this league, and there’s been a lot of superteams put together, quote unquote, superteams, and I know the history. I feel comfortable where we’re at,” stated Rivers on Media Day. The Truth followed up with the same kind of insight when asked on the subject, responding: “I think we have a superteam here…this could very well easily be what’s considered [one]. There’s a number of superteams out there, and I guess that’s the way the league is going. But I like our chances versus anybody.”
With this same-page mentality from Coach Rivers down to the very last man on the bench, mixed with the chemistry that was beyond visible during Media Day, it’s tough to say that this team won’t have the tools to not only make it far into the season, but potentially take on the most talked about team with the Warriors, their newest star Durant, and their inevitable takeover (which I should point out, I am not fully convinced of just yet, but I digress…).
While other top contenders in the west have spent the offseason adding and losing players, the Clippers have done the opposite. It will take time for the Warriors to build that chemistry. Replacing Tim Duncan won’t come easy (be still, my heart). So while those teams are figuring it out, the Clippers may have a one-year window to get to the championship.
Their main concern: staying healthy. Maintaining that, along with some extra help from “Coach KG” (I know you all saw the video), they may just get the pep talk they need to keep it together this year. All I’m saying is, though their window may be closing… don’t rule them out just yet.