The Los Angeles Clippers will get their 2012-2013 season underway tonight at the Staples Center, taking on the Memphis Grizzlies, who they defeated in the first round of last season’s playoff run. That Clippers team was eventually swept in the western conference semifinals by the San Antonio Spurs. So this summer the Clippers made it a priority to improve their roster for a deeper playoff run this season and that’s exactly what they did.
They added seven new players to bolster their roster from last season, making them one of the deepest teams headed into this season. It all started with a trade with the Dallas Mavericks, bringing Lamar Odom back to where he started his career in Los Angeles with the Clippers. After that the Clippers started to stock up, adding Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill, Ronny Turiaf, Ryan Hollins, Willie Green, and Matt Barnes.
During this summer the Clippers also decided to sign all-star Blake Griffin to a five-year contract extension that could be worth up to $95 million. On top of all of those acquisitions the Clippers will still have the same core of last year’s team, with Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Caron Butler, Chauncey Billups, and Eric Bledsoe all returning for this season.
It was essential for the Clippers to improve their team in the off-season, especially with the Los Angeles Lakers who also play in the Staples Center added high-profile players like Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.
This Clippers team looks like they will be a top contender in the western conference, but how far can they go? That answer will be in the hands of Paul, who will be playing in the final year of his contract. Paul is one of the league’s best players, as well as one of the biggest competitors. This guy has changed the entire culture of the franchise, making them competitive for the first time in years.
However, this could be the last year that Paul plays in a Clippers uniform, depending on how far this team can go. A western conference finals appearance should be enough to persuade Paul to sign an extension with the Clippers, which doesn’t seem too far-fetched for this team to accomplish.
It will be crucial for this team to finish as a top four seed in the western conference. That would at least guarantee them home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Realistically, the Clippers can win 50 games this season. If the Clippers can win 50 games and get a top four seed in the western conference they will have a legit shot at a conference finals appearance. In the playoffs is where the depth of this team will become a valuable asset.
The Clippers will also need to get huge help from Griffin and Jordan to make that kind of run in the western conference. It’s going to be so important for both of these guys to play up to their potential all season long, specifically because the Lakers have such a dominant frontcourt with Paul Gasol and Howard controlling the paint.
This team has already been labeled by some as the greatest Clippers team of all time, before they have even played a single game yet. Those are some very high expectations, but that’s the kind of culture that the Clippers have adapted too and for this team the sky is the limit.
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