There has been a lot of titles placed upon the Los Angeles Clippers over the years: horrible, the worst franchise in NBA history, a place where good players go to rot and a young upstart team that could never move to the next rung in the ladder (a bunch of times).
They have never been called what I’m calling them for the 2012-13 NBA season — the deepest team in the league.
Everyone in the basketball world already knows they have two top 30 players in Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Also known as No. 1 and No.2 of the affiliate named Lob City. Caron Butler, DeAndre Jordan (when playing to his potential) and Chauncey Billups (returning healthy) rounds out a strong cast of supporting players who can perform every aspect of basketball at an extremely high level.
But, we knew this going into last season. The starting five was exactly why the Clippers started to receive all kinds of media attention by the biggest sports outlets in America.
What we didn’t know was the “little brother” in LA was going to package together a bench squad with the capabilities of being the best six through 10 in the league in Lamar Odom, Grant Hill, Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe for the upcoming season.
Again, I think the possibility of the Clips having the best bench is going to become a reality.
Odom is coming off of his worst season in the NBA. However, under the circumstances of being traded by the Los Angeles Lakers to the Dallas Mavericks for literally nothing, I’ll give him a get out of jail free card for being a human being.
This season, he’s back in LA — where he wanted to be in the first place. He’s not in the purple and gold or alongside Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. In my opinion, Lamar should look at this as a blessing. Instead of being looked at as a guy who is replaceable or just another helping hand to an already outstanding front line with the Lakers, Odom was signed to the Clippers to be the rock off the bench a young team can depend on.
For all of Griffin’s physical attributes, he’s not a great basketball player — yet. He’s rough around the edges and needs help developing the intangibles which transform good players to greats and greats to legends. Odom is a presence on both sides of the court Griffin should be watching for pointers. Believe it or not, basketball is a game of skill, not all athletic ability.
Hill is one of the best stories to ever hit the NBA. We’re talking about a player who had the ability to be a renaissance man and change the landscape of the NBA in the late 1990′s. Unfortunately for him and followers of the league, Hill was hampered for four years with ankle injuries.
On the other hand, the ankle injuries helped him out in the long run when it comes to having a long run in the NBA since he has been an everyday starter for the last four seasons.
The Clippers made a great decision by signing him since he’s an easy 10 points, 5 rebound a night kind of guy. What NBA team doesn’t want this production off of the bench in a 39-year-old playing on 30-year-old legs? He’ll be a great teacher to the young guys as much as Odom will be because of what he’s been able to do after all his injury problems.
Crawford and Odom have both won the Sixth Man of the Year Award. If there was an award for the best bench duo, I don’t see why Odom and Crawford wouldn’t win it.
Last season the Clippers bench lacked shooters off of the bench after Mo Williams (now with the Utah Jazz). Crawford is a streaky shooter, but when he gets hot, no one off any bench in the league can compile 20-to-25 points as fast as Crawford can.
He has a fantastic runner, can knock down the trey from anywhere around the arch and attacks the basket when given an opportunity.
Odom, Hill and Crawford is already enough for me to say the Clippers are the deepest team in the league.
Add Eric Bledsoe, who is quick and can do everything a backup point guard needs to do, and Ronny Turiaf, a brute force in the middle who will grab five rebounds and block a shot in 17 minutes, and the Clippers have a supporting roster with impeccable potential.
Barring any major injury, I don’t see one roster in the NBA that can put the level of talent on the court the Clippers can in an entire 48-minute game.
If there is another team whose 6-10 players match up or best the Clippers, let us know. Who do you think has the best bench coming into the 2012-13 season?
Tags: Andrew Bynum Blake Griffin Caron Butler Chauncey Billups Chris Paul Dallas Mavericks DeAndre Jordan Eric Bledsoe Grant Hill Jamal Crawford Kobe Bryant Lamar Odom Lob City Los Angeles Clippers Los Angeles Lakers NBA Pau Gasol Ronny Turiaf