COMMENTARY | The Los Angeles Clippers are wrapping up their best offseason in franchise history. Chris Paul has officially signed to a five-year deal, Doc Rivers is on board for the next three seasons, and a promising cast of prized players will join the roster in 2014.
All signs show that the Clippers are built to contend for championships right away. They tout a world-class head coach and a stacked roster expected to perform at a high level right out of the gate.
But competition is thick in the Western Conference. Both Oklahoma City and San Antonio should be favored to appear in the NBA Finals before the Clippers. Not to mention, Houston and Golden State are forces to be reckoned with after their signings of Dwight Howard and Andre Iguodala, respectively.
Regardless of the odds against them, the Clippers have put together a roster worthy of championship expectations.
Here are three reasons they are primed to kiss the golden ball in 2014:
The Clippers based their offseason around beefing up their mid-range game. They added sharpshooters J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley to the starting lineup, who shot 36% and 39%, respectively, from 3-point range last season. Plus, they padded the bench's mid-range attack by re-signing Matt Barnes, adding Darren Collison, and tapping pure shooter Reggie Bullock in the first round of the draft.There's a sound explanation behind the front office's lust for shooters: They are building the team around Chris Paul. A pass-first point guard like Paul will thrive with a roster full of knock-down shooting options along the perimeter. Redick and Dudley will be prime weapons to come off screens and capitalize on CP3's deadly pick-and-pop.
But Paul isn't the only piece that suits the team's onslaught of shooters. The new-look Clippers are also resembling of the team Rivers won a title with in 2008. The offense runs through a passing point guard surrounded by shooters who space the floor. Given its past success with this formula, expect Rivers' coaching style to fit in early in his tenure with the Clippers.
A Roster in its Prime
A lion's share of the Clippers roster is either in its prime or approaching it. Paul, Redick, Dudley and Ryan Hollins are each entering the peak of their careers, while Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Darren Collison are still approaching their best days.The future looks brighter for the Clippers than any other franchise in the league. Their roster has at least a five-year window to play at a high level and compete for championships, and their success is expected to begin right away.
The Clippers have the athleticism to keep pace with the most dominant transition teams in the league. Their entire starting lineup is in its 20s, and their bench isn't much older. Competing in a young, fast-paced league, the Clippers have a well-positioned franchise to lead them far into the future.
The recent signings of Paul, Redick, Dudley, Barnes, Collison and Hollins were announced in unorthodox fashion: All six players shared the stage with their head coach as they addressed reporters and fans.
This represents a clear shift from the NBA norm for announcing player acquisitions. The league is accustom to Lebron-esque productions where the superstar takes the stage alone to enjoy all the hype and attention that comes with signing a new deal.
But Rivers had a different approach in mind.
"I thought it was important that we did this together," he said. "We have to try to learn how to win together. This is not boxing, this is basketball."
This sentiment is nothing new from Doc. A message of unity was a key element of his success as head coach of the Celtics. In Boston, he championed the mantra, "ubuntu" -- a South African rallying cry that translates to, "I am because we are."
Rivers was able to convince strong, overbearing personalities like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo to buy into a system larger than themselves, and that is precisely the challenge he faces in Los Angeles.
The Clippers roster is full of young players who are unfamiliar with the team concept Rivers employed in Boston. Doc will have to teach his new players to look past their individual games and buy into a larger team concept. This will mean sharing the ball, trusting one another on defense and cultivating a community-oriented locker room.
Rivers will bring similar coaching methods from Boston to Los Angeles. And If he plays his cards right with the roster and coaching staff he helped assemble, he can bring a similar result.Dan Komin has lived in the Greater Los Angeles area for 16 years and is an avid follower of all things Clippers. His work has focused on trades, player updates and offseason prospects for sports teams throughout the Southland. Follow Dan on Google+.
- Sports & Recreation
- Chris Paul
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Doc Rivers
- Paul Pierce
- Darren Collison