Feb 6, 2012; Orlando, FL, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chauncey Billups (1) is attended to after an injury during the fourth quarter against the Orlando Magic at Amway Center. Los Angeles defeated Orlando 107-102 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-US PRESSWIRE

No. 9 in the Countdown to the 2012-13 NBA Season: Injuries

Most basketball fans began the countdown to the tip-off of the 2012-13 NBA season as soon as the Miami Heat won the 2012 NBA Championship.

Good, you should have.

When it comes to making lists or tacking information with a set number of days–June to October can be a problem. In this case, Fully Clips and I have waited until the season was 10 days away to provide 10 aspects of the game of basketball, story lines or roster management moves the Los Angeles Clippers will showcase in the new season.

I’ve never been one to use career health problems as a way to judge what he can or can’t do in an upcoming season. I’m not going to start now because every player faces set backs. On the other hand, if a team can’t keep its players on the court because of injuries occurring this season, the team can’t win.

With that said, our countdown continues with injuries.

No. 9: Injuries

The Los Angeles Clippers have a stacked lineup with two superstars, some real solid role players and the deepest bench in the league. On paper, they can beat or contend with every team in the league and could arguably be placed in the NBA Finals.

But to do that in real life–on the court–the Clippers have to stay healthy.

The list of surgeries performed on players wearing the LA red, white and blue coming into this season is longer than most other NBA franchise. Not only is the list long, but it is comprised of three starters: Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Chauncey Billups.

Griffin and Paul seem to be okay in their preseason minutes. Paul is running the floor and Griffin is still rising above the rim to dunk Paul’s passes.

February 11, 2012; Charlotte, NC, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) gets his knees iced down towards the end of the game against the Charlotte Bobcats at Time Warner Cable Arena. Clippers win 111-86. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-US PRESSWIRE

However, there will always be concern about Griffin’s knees, especially after undergoing surgery for a meniscus tear three months ago. Paul’s thumb isn’t as big of a concern, but the Clippers need a healthy superstar point guard to have a chance against the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder for Western Conference supremacy.

The Clippers won’t have their starting backcourt until at least November as Chauncey Billups continues recovery from his torn Achilles tendon injury in February. I’m not saying Willie Green or Eric Bledsoe can’t help win games, but having the cagy veteran–who has made a living off of his court vision and defensive awareness–play the majority of the minutes is an upgrade.

Hence Billups being named the starter.

Bledsoe would make the team more dynamic because of his athleticism, but he also makes a lot of bad decisions and doesn’t know when to and when not to make a difficult pass. He had a lot of mistakes in the two preseason games against the Miami Heat in China.

Green can shoot the ball, but that is about it. Billups is a shooter and an extra eye for Paul because he can see everything Paul can on the court–Green can’t.

I didn’t want to include injuries on this list at all because they are an outside factor nobody can predict. Paul, Billups and Griffin may never sit out another game and enjoy the best success of their careers. On the other hand, all three of them could be hampered with injuries and the Clippers miss the playoffs.

All a fan can hope for is that the basketball gods are looking over the Clippers because if they are healthy, LA has an extremely high upside for the 2012-13 NBA season.

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Tags: Blake Griffin Chauncey Billups Chris Paul Countdown To The 2012-13 NBA Season Los Angeles Clippers Injuries

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