If there is any prediction harder to make than others, it has to be predicting a team to win a game when neither team has played yet. In this case, the Los Angeles Clippers’ preseason opener against the Denver Nuggets.
It’s even worse when two of the Clippers’ main guys will not suit up — Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups — and Blake Griffin is coming off of a knee surgery for a torn meniscus.
So, I won’t predict a winner.
I will predict a good game where we’ll see the stars play for a little while and then have the chance to scout the young, up and coming players or the veterans on each team. I’ll also predict the basketball world is thrilled a professional game of basketball will finally be played. The wait from June to September seems so long.
This game against Denver — which will be held in Las Vegas where no other NBA game has been played — is going to be an eye opener for the Clippers. All the questions surrounding the team won’t be answered in one game, but the franchise will be able to get a lead on an answer. I think that’s what the term preseason game is meant for.
Is Lamar Odom going to be a valuable off-season pickup after his disastrous 2011-12 season?
This is the most alarming situation in Clippers’ nation and one of the biggest topics in the NBA. Odom was a force with the Los Angeles Lakers, where he helped win two championships and won a Sixth Man of the Year Award.
He was then traded to the Dallas Mavericks in a lopsided deal and turned into a NBDL player. We could bat the idea around about the emotion he felt about being traded from a team he was a main part of and away from guys he became close with, but we must remember the NBA is a business.
Odom was paid to play the game of basketball. He didn’t. The Clippers are hoping his return to LA will bring a return of his game.
Is Grant Hill too old?
A athlete is considered old way before a non-athlete is because of the constant pounding their body withstands. Usually, a guy is “too old” in the mid-30′s; Hill turned 40-years-old Friday (yesterday).
He wasn’t brought into the roster to start or be a main piece of the puzzle like he was with the Phoenix Suns. I believe the Clips signed him to score some points — 8 to 10 points per game would be nice — play some defense and grab a few rebounds in second to third stringer minutes. Remember a younger, better defender in Matt Barnes is on the depth chart behind him. If Hill has a tough time — I don’t think he will — Barnes could be put in.
I think Hill still has game, the conditioning and the body left to do those things, but no one will really know until he laces up his Jordans/Nikes/Reeboks/Adidas or whatever brand of basketball shoes he wears.
Plus, it has never hurt any other franchise to add a cagy veteran with a great basketball IQ to a group of younger guys who haven’t had much success.
Will Jamal Crawford be able to perform and work within a system on a good team?
I wouldn’t call Crawford a loose cannon, but he has never been on a team with direction. His first few seasons with the Chicago Bulls, his stint with the New York Knicks, a year with the Golden State Warriors, two with the Atlanta Hawks and last season with the Golden State Warriors, have not been winning situations.
Also, none of his prior situations had a system or a rhyme of reason. His mission was to chuck up the ball.
In LA, he is going to be asked not to chuck up the ball. Instead, the Clippers will want him to run off screens, get open, catch the pass and hit a three. It seems easy, but when a player has been playing a one-man game for as long as Crawford has — it’s far from easy.
How will Eric Bledsoe bounce back?
Last season, Bledsoe missed 23 of the Clippers’ first 24 games because of a torn meniscus. Once he came back to the team, he was only given 11.6 minutes per game, which shrank all of his numbers from his rookie season the year before.
Bledsoe is only behind Chris Paul on the depth chart and should be asked to play solid defense on some of the best point guards in the NBA.
The situation could end with Bledsoe receiving minutes and proving his rookie season wasn’t a fluke or he could remain an after thought.
Is DeAndre Jordan ready to step up his game?
Jordan could be a top five center in the league. However, his play last season was far from a top 10 consideration.
He has all the tools to be the guy the Clippers think he can be, but potential doesn’t mean anything on the court this season– it’s all about production.