2015-16 NBA Previews – Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers are locked and loaded this season adding depth where they were weak last season and holding onto their core – even if it was just barely. DeAndre Jordan will be back in the middle as he, Chris Paul, and Blake Griffin look to see if they can make a run at an NBA title.
Los Angeles Clippers Season Preview
Head Coach: Doc Rivers
2014 Record: 56-26
Clippers Odds to NBA Title: 13/1
Clippers Odds to Win Conference: 7/1
The Clippers are even more loaded with strengths after turning in a 56 win season in 2014. The Clippers bring back four of their five starters from last year and have added much needed depth on the bench.
Along with Paul, Griffin, Jordan, and JJ Redick, the Clippers will welcome Lance Stephenson into the starting lineup. Unlike other times in his career, Stephenson will have pressure behind forcing him to play at a high level. 1 through 5, the Clippers could have the most talented starting lineup in professional basketball.
Last season, the Clippers struggled at times when their bench players were on the floor. This offseason, they added Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, and Wesley Johnson. In addition, the Clippers also signed Pablo Prigioni and Cole Aldrich to deepen their bench.
The Clippers had one of the worst benches in the league – this year, they could have one of the best.
A big need for added depth was times when Paul and Griffin were out with injuries or wore down near the end of the season. If the Clippers want to go deep in the loaded Western Conference, they not only need to use their bench, they need their bench to play well.
This lineup of bench players has started many games – they’ll be one of the most experienced benches in the league. Don’t forget Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers – who both played important valuable minutes in the playoffs when Paul hurt his hamstring.
Another important strength to note is head coach Doc Rivers. Doc has years of experience and worked through problems last season with player egos and injuries to post a 56 win season. That’s not enough for Doc as he came to Los Angeles so he could win another ring.
A team with the fifth best odds likely doesn’t have a ton of weaknesses.
However, the weaknesses for the Clippers aren’t going to stop them from making the playoffs. There is far too much talent on this team to miss the playoffs. Barring multiple injuries to key players, the Clippers will make the playoffs in the loaded Western Conference.
The bigger question is what will stop the Clippers from going deep in the playoffs? As we all remember, DeAndre Jordan nearly left Los Angeles for Dallas. A last second push by the organization including Paul, Griffin, and Doc brought Jordan back for another run at it.
His initial reasoning for leaving was that he was tired of playing second fiddle – or third, sometimes fourth. When he decided to come back, he said he was more interested in winning a championship and would do whatever it took to get there.
That was how Jordan felt in July. How will he feel in the spring when he has been the second or third option for most of the regular season? With this much talent and depth lead by the great Doc Rivers, the Clippers can only beat themselves.
There are a lot of players on this roster who could be the number one option at some point. For example, Paul, Griffin, Jordan, Crawford, Pierce, and Smith have combined to score almost 80,000 points. If who is scoring what becomes a problem, this team could fail.
If egos are checked at the door – which Pierce and Smith knowingly did by coming here to likely take a bench role, this team will be very difficult to beat.
Clippers 2015 Betting Prediction:
The Clippers season win betting total is 57. Coming off of a year when they posted 56 and an offseason where they made significant additions, it could be easy to imagine them winning more than that.
But they didn’t go make those additions to go after the Bulls all-time record of 72 wins in a season. They did it to go win an NBA Championship. So the money to be made here is not the over or under on the betting total, it is on the Clippers coming out of the Western Conference and winning the NBA Finals.
The West is far too deep to guarantee they go over that total. The Los Angeles Clippers with 7/1 odds to win the Western Conference and 13/1 odds to win the NBA Finals are the best bet to take on a NBA team right now.
Clippers Key Personnel Losses:
Dahntay Jones, Ekpe Udoh, Matt Barnes, Spencer Hawes.
Barnes started last year and they will definitely miss his toughness but Stephenson will replace his defense and Pierce will replace his veteran presence. Hawes played solid minutes at times but won’t be missed with the addition of Josh Smith. Udoh and Jones aren’t notable losses.
Clippers Top Newcomers:
Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, Branden Dawson, Wesley Johnson, Pablo Prigioni, Lance Stephenson, Cole Aldrich.
Stephenson and Pierce could share the fifth and final starting position but the other one plus Smith and Johnson will be relied upon heavily to carry the second unit.
Prigioni is a great veteran addition and Aldrich and Dawson add depth in the frontcourt that most likely won’t be needed but could play in a role in keeping blowouts out of reach for opposing teams.
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