Clippers, a much Improved team

The Clippers could possible be the new team in LA.  The Lakers could make some noise in LA but it all depends on the young players that they drafted and how well Luke Walton does as a coach.  However, we need to take a look at the Clippers to see what makes this team so much better then in years past.

Griffin and Paul

This combination must remind a lot of Utah Jazz fans of the good old days of Karl Malone and John Stockton.  However, the one difference though between what Utah had and what the Clippers have has to do deal with health.  Last year Griffin only started in 35 games last year.  It was a combination of injuries and suspensions.  However, I believe that Griffin has a lot to prove this year because of what happened to him last year.  Griffin’s image is in jeopardy and I believe that he understands that.  He also understands that the door for the Clippers to be a contender is closing due to the age of Chris Paul.

The Clippers will most likely continue to contend in the West as long as Griffin can stay healthy.  Paul though might be able to give the Clippers three more years of decent enough play before father time kicks in.  Paul most likely understands this as well and he must be getting tired of hearing about how good Russell Westbrook, Seth Curry and Kyrie Irving are.  No offense to anyone who love those players but Paul has been in the shadow of these point guards for a while.  Paul in my opinion has been the most consistent player in the league the last couple of years.  His consistency though usually comes when Griffin is able to stay health.  If these two can stay health all year, the starting line up for the Clippers will be a threat to any team at any given night.

DeAndre Jordan or Marresse Speights

DeAndre Jordan needs to really consider what is important for this team at this point in his career.  Is it more important to shoot the free throw like a shooter in this league, or make free throws like Rick Barry and go for the granny-shot.  Right now the Houston Rockets have a player named Chinanu Onuaku who shoots granny-style.  The difference this season between Onuaku and Jordan will be that Onuaku will actually make his shots vs Jordan who will miss a lot of his shots.  Here is another item to point out to Jordan that he needs to think about.  Jordan will continue to get the hack a shaq treatment because the league really didn’t change the rule that much.  Jordan’s playing time will drop if he can’t make free throws.  Who will take his spot?  Bring in Marreese Speights.

I can tell already that the Clippers are getting ready for the fact that Jordan will not be playing down the stretch when it is a close game.  Here is what is interesting is that both Speights and Jordan came into the league at the same time.  Speights free throw percentage for his career is .790 while Jordan’s is .420.  That is a .370 percent difference when it comes to shooting the free throw.  I believe that if Jordan goes granny-style, that his percentage will sky rocket.  It will also make the Clippers more of a threat should crunch time come in close games because Jordan is a threat on the boards and blocking shots.  While Speights is better at rebounding the ball if given more playing time.  Jordan, if you want to help your team, please go granny style soon or I can see your playing time getting cut in close games.  Good thing though the Clippers signed Speights to make up the difference in close games.  Excellent signing by the Clippers during the off season.

Bench

The bench for the Clippers will be huge this year.  In years past, the bench was only Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers.  Which at any given night, they would sometimes just disappear.  This season with the addition of Speights, this team will be much improved.  Here is why.

Crawford for how great he is, tends to turn the ball over a lot.  In his career, he is averaging two turn overs a game.  I think this year those numbers will go down since he should be able to spread the floor more and not rely on the one on one game.  In fact, he might be able to improve Austin Rivers as a shooter because of the pick up of Speights.  Austin I believe will be able to either do off ball screens or on ball screens with Speights.  Team defenses might be focused on Crawford whether he has the ball or not and Rivers might be able to score more driving to the basket or being able to shoot the three.  If not him, then you can either have Speigths or Crawford do that as well if he passes the ball.  The Clippers have a big three on the starting squad.  Four if you added  J.J. Redick to the picture as well.  Now with Speights, they will have three more scores on the floor when they need to rest their starters at any given stretch of the game.

There needs to be more games played this season to fully see the potential of the team, but they will be in the top four this season when playoffs come.  There best shot at making the Western Conference Finals will most likely be if they face Golden State in the second round of the playoffs.  Which means they need to get the number four seed, or the number three seed depending on how the battle that goes between the Spurs, Warriors and Thunder.  Since the Warriors lack experience and rebounding in their Center positions, Jordan, Griffin, and Speights should have a field day on the boards since Golden State plays small ball.  I have no doubt that the Clippers can compete with their small ball team, so it would all depend on the big men of the series.  Which I give to the Clippers since they are bigger, stronger and able to crash the boards.  Time will tell what happens to this Clippers team but the number one issue that needs to be focused on his health if this team wants to go far.

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Spurs will be underrated all year

While the league will be talking about Lebron James and the Cavaliers or the Super team Warriors, the Spurs will be doing like they always have been doing.  Playing Spurs basketball.  I honestly believe that this Spurs team is better then last years team and has the biggest chance right now to win the NBA championship.  But before everyone goes crazy and wants to burn me to the post let me explain.

Bench

The Spurs have one of the deepest benches this year.  We always talk about the starters and how important they are but lets look at the starters for the Spurs.  The starters for the Spurs last night were Tony Parker, Kyle Anderson, Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Pau Gasol.  Ok now look at the bench Patty Mills, Manu Ginobili, Jonathon Simmons, and David Lee.  Other players on the Spurs I don’t really know as players but that is without Danny Green who is currently out with an injury.  If Danny Green hadn’t been out you can see that the Spurs bench could have started the game last night.

This is huge because if you have a bench that could start any game, its like you really never lose your starters all game.  That is what made the Warriors so deadly the last two years was that their bench could have been starters if they needed it to be.  Its almost like the Spurs are trying to set up their team so that they can on top in the NBA again.

No Duncan?  Ok Gasol!

It was heart breaking for the Spurs to lose Tim Duncan.  A legend in that city but its ok, they picked up Pau Gasol.  I get that Paul is old and that he isn’t better at defense like Duncan was, but Gasol might be better then people realize.  Here is why.

Gasol is going to be able to spread the floor more unlike Duncan was at his age.  Gasol’s ability to see the floor is amazing.  It is what made the Lakers so good back in 2008-2010 was because of Gasol being able to pass the ball to Lamar Odom or Kobe Bryant when the floor was spread out.  His defense might be shaky…oh wait he is averaging 1.7 blocks for his career.  Tim Duncans career blocks were 2.2 for his career but lets break it down even farther.  Tim Duncan blocks the last three years were 139, 151, 78.  Paul Gasols blocks the last three years?  92, 147, and 146 for the last three seasons!  Gasols time in Chicago might have helped him with working on his defense.  So in the end, Gasol does have defense but people don’t look at that for him.  Plus if he didn’t have defense, I don’t think the Spurs would have signed him.  Either that or Pop will make sure that he does have defense.

Kawhi Lenoard

The most underrated player in the league right now.  Remember, he was a finals MVP during the 2014 finals and was the third youngest player to receive this award.  The other two players who were younger?  They were both Magic Johnson.  The other thing to remember too is that he is 25 years old and he is going to have a season because he is now in the prime of his career.  He is a two time defensive player of the year and he is only going to get better.  His ability to play defense is only going to get better as the season goes on and as the saying goes.  Offense wins games, defense wins championship.

Rising Star on the team?  Bring in Jonathon Simmons

Ok this is my prediction for the team now but I believe that Jonathon Simmons is the key to this teams success.  He had a career high last night of 20 points but I don’t think this is the end with him.  I believe that he could be the new Ginobili for this team.  If he can bring these types of numbers every night, he will be the new big three or four for the Spurs.  Think about this, Patty Mills,  Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Jonathon Simmons.  That could be a deadly line up that no one is taking about.  I am currious to see what the numbers will be when those four are out on the floor.  This might be the most kept secret of the Spurs and no one to my knowledge is talking about it.

If you are a Spurs fan, this is going to be a good season for you guys.  This could result in a banner in that building come next year.  Time will tell but I believe that this team can win it all.