Since the birth of sports, TV analysts, writers, commentators and local barbershops putting up trophy cases for their alma mater highschool, people have been looking at athletes or the teams they play for on paper.
In my estimation, it will never stop and probably shouldn’t. The art of predicting who will score more points than the other is one of those age-old traditions sporting events thrive on. If no one wanted to know if they were right, no one would watch.
The only thing I feel discouraged about people looking at teams on paper when it comes to the master question, “Who will win the championship?” is the little guys trying to climb to the top of the championship contender mountain from the valley of the average team are often overlooked or over-dissected.
This is the case with the Los Angeles Clippers.
Bleacher Report’s featured columnist Maxwell Ogden wrote a piece about how the Clippers could not win an NBA Championship because of Chris Paul’s unflattering postseason track record, the various injuries players on the Clippers’ roster have endured, the lack of front court depth, mediocre perimeter defense and the age of the small forwards.
Whew, I don’t think I’ve ever read something more wrong about the Clips. Do I think they’re a sure-fire NBA champ, no, but if everything went right could they be a contender and a real scare to the preseason top dogs in the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder? Yes.
Paul has only been past the second round of the playoffs twice, including last season with the Clips. His postseason career is lackluster but not because of him, but because of what he was surrounded with. He didn’t have Shaquille O’Neal like Kobe Bryant, or vice-versa. He didn’t have Tim Duncan like Tony Parker did. He didn’t have a strong supporting role player like the Rockets, Lakers and Spurs in Robert Horry.
Instead, he’s played on teams with a roster full of scrubs or slightly above average players. Before he came to LA, David West — a 2-time NBA All-Star — was the best player he played with. I would take Horry, Shaq and Kobes’ third option, or Duncan and Parkers’ option of Manu Ginobili over West any day.
The last time I checked, there wasn’t a list of players who can get hurt and those who can not. Injuries are never going to be known when it comes, to who it happens to, or when an injury happen. The only thing known about them is a crazy scientific name and what surgery will fix it when the injury does come.
Michael Jordan got hurt and the Bulls didn’t do so hot. Larry Bird got hurt. Magic Johnson retired from the game because of a virus. Yao Ming, Brandon Roy, Tracy McGrady, Penny Hardaway, Alonzo Mourning and the list could keep going, going and going. These things can happen to anyone and shouldn’t be a precursor to a team’s season in a season preview or a main point in an argument before the team has even played a game.
Anyone can get hurt.
The one part of Ogden’s argument I semi-agree with is the fact the Clippers’ front line isn’t overly impressive.
Blake Griffin is a star. DeAndre Jordan is a player who could blossom into something extraordinary or become compatible with Stephen Hunter (thanks Brett Roberts for the name drop the other day). Hunter was an NBA bust who had the athletic ability to become a star — similar to Jordan.
The bench of Ryan Hollins and Ronny Turiaf doesn’t excite fans or intimidate opponents. I agree with Ogden.
On the other hand, what was the last NBA Champion that relied on their front court past the main guys to win, the 2009-10 Los Angeles Lakers. The Miami Heat won because of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and a list of role players who knocked down big shots. The Dallas Mavericks were on the back of Dirk Nowitzki who leaned on Jason Terry, Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion when need-be.
The Lakers in the 2010 NBA Finals would never had a chance without Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, but the year before they tore it up in the playoffs without Bynum — who was injured. Even the Boston Celtics in 2007-08 didn’t have much behind Kevin Garnet in the front court.
Turiaf is a big man who is hard to move, will grab rebounds and will hustle every minute he is in the game. Hollins is tall and lengthy with the ability to block shots or disrupt shots. I’m happy with this production in the front court of two players who will play less than 15 minutes a game.
Eric Bledsoe is a good defender. Paul is a good defender. Chauncey Billups is a good defender. Individually, none of them are premier perimeter defenders but if a guy gets past them, there is the shot blocking duo of Jordan and Griffin to help defend. Defense isn’t a one-on-one game, the statistical categories says team defense for a reason.
Now we have the funniest slam on the Clippers of all, aging small forwards who can no longer play the game.
The 39-year-old body of Grant Hill is more like 32-years-old since he did miss three years with ankle injuries. Since his injuries in the mid-2000′s he’s played starter minutes in a large number of games. In the three seasons prior to last year’s lockout season, Hill played in 80-plus games. He has never ended a season scoring less than 10 points per game.
Caron Butler has never scored less than 12 points a game except for his second year in the league when he put up 9.2 ppg in the 2003-04 season with the Miami Heat.
The Los Angles Clippers have players who can do everything needed on a basketball court at an extremely high level. The team doesn’t need to solely rely on Paul and Griffin to get things done because there are other players on the team who will produce. I think I’ve said this before: the Clippers have the deepest team in the league.
I didn’t even have to mention Jamal Crawford or Lamar Odom to say how good this team really could be. There are quality players all over the roster who could make this LA team just as much as a winner or beyond that of the Lakers.
At least on paper.
Tags: Alonzo Mourning Andrew Bynum Blake Griffin Bleacher Report Brandon Roy Can The Los Angeles Clippers Win An NBA Championship Caron Butler Chauncey Billups Chris Paul DeAndre Jordan Dirk Nowitzki Eric Bledsoe Featured Grant Hill Jamal Crawford Jason Kidd Jason Terry Kevin Garnet Kobe Bryant Lamar Odom Larry Bird Los Angeles Clippers Magic Johnson Manu Ginobili Michael Jordan Pau Gasol Penny Hardaway Popular Robert Horry Shaquille O'Neal Shawn Marion Tim Duncan Tony Parker Tracy McGrady Yao Mind