Baring injury or total collapse, the Los Angeles Clippers will have a deep playoff run in 2014. Last season’s first-round exit was largely due to an unlucky draw of the Memphis Grizzlies who, like the Clippers, were a 56-win team.
However, the two were heading in different directions as the 2013 playoffs approached.
The Clippers were embattled in a identity crisis which caused mutiny in the locker room and plagued its way onto the court. The Grizzlies were rounding into form as the season was drawing to conclusion. They traded away their leading scorer mid-season, changing their identity from a team that pushed the tempo on offense to a half-court team featuring their dominant post players and aggressive defense.
The Clippers made changes in the offseason to address the weaknesses that were exposed by the big boys in Graceland. It’s unlikely that the Clippers will face the Grizzlies a second time in two years in the first round, but armed with a new coach and snipers in the corners, the results favor the Clippers.
Anything less than seven games in the second round of the playoffs will be a disappointment for a franchise with banner aspirations, but said banner is a lofty expectation unless a major trade is made.
Yet the question remains: trade who, and for whom?
Clippers general Chris Paul is cemented for the foreseeable future, but the same can not be said for the remaining 12.
The first half of the season is crucial for the Clippers organization in answering two important questions: did forward Blake Griffin develop a jump shot in the offseason? Did center DeAndre Jordan develop?
Such questions will have to be answered before the rest of the league catches on to the truth. Both Griffin and Jordan are high-value assets with promising upsides. If a major move is to made, it’ll have to be one that puts the Clippers in position to win it all.
ChristopherBrown is an NBA writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @whatrockschris. Like him on Facebook.