2011-12 NBA Preview: Los Angeles Clippers

By Robert D. Cobb

LOS ANGELES, California – In a city dominated by the “Showtime” Lakers, there is a new reality series in the “Blake Show” Los Angeles Clippers coming to NBA hardcourts in 2011-12.

With the Clippers set to open the regular season on the road in Oakland against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena, this may be the most anticipated season in the 27 years that the Clippers have ever had in Los Angeles.

Led by All-Star power forward and 2011 NBA Rookie of The Year, Blake Griffin, the Clippers look to continue their upward trend and improve on their fourth-place finish in the Pacific Division of 32-50.

Since the 2008-09 season, the Clippers have gradually jumped from 19 wins in 2008-09 to 29 wins in 2009-10 and 32 wins in Griffin’s breakout season in 2010-11.

Griffin would lead Los Angeles in scoring, averaging 22.5 points per game and in rebounds with 12.1.

As a team, the Clippers were 19th in the NBA in scoring as they would average 98.6 points per game and would allow the 20th most points per game at 101.8

Los Angeles would be ninth in the NBA in rebounding, averaging 42.1 and 10th in assists with 22.1

The Clippers acquisitions of Chris Paul, Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups addresses the much-needed area of scoring, which would allow Griffin and center DeAndre Jordan to focus on interior defense and rebounding.

The Clippers would land Paul from the Hornets—after an initial trade with the cross-town Lakers—was nullified by the league-owned Hornets for point guard Eric Gordon, center Chris Kaman, Al-Farooq Aminu and draft picks.

Los Angeles would also add a quality shooting guard in claiming Billups off of waivers after being amnestied by the Knicks. The Clippers would also sign free-agent swingman Caron Butler formerly of the 2010 NBA champion Dallas Mavericks to a three-year $24 million dollar deal.

Projected Starting Lineup:

PG Chris Paul

SG Chauncey Billups

SF Caron Butler

PF Blake Griffin

C DeAndre Jordan

Los Angeles has a projected line-up in Griffin, Paul, Billups, Butler and Jordan that will give teams headaches due to their athleticism, shooting and interior defense.

The Clippers have a wide-open fast-break offense under head coach Vinny Del Negro that will feature ESPN highlight-worthy lobs to Griffin, Butler and Jordan and a deadly backcourt Paul and Billups will make “Lob Angeles” hard to beat in the West.

The key for the Clippers will be their bench that includes veteran point guard Mo Williams and young talent in Eric Bledsoe, Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes, Brian Cook and Trey Thompkins, there is no reason why the Clippers cannot make a deep run in the playoffs.

Projected Record: (41-26) Based on Lamar Odom’s trade to Dallas, Tyson Chandler’s defection to New York, Kobe Bryant’s wrist injury and the early retirement of Portland Trail Blazers point guard Brandon Roy, the Clippers could realistically finish as the fourth seed behind Oklahoma City, Dallas and Memphis, and ahead of the aging rival Lakers, San Antonio, Denver and Utah.

Look for the young Clippers to emerge from under the Laker’s shadow in Hollywood and roll out their own red carpet in 2011-12.

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