From here , it’s all untrue. No pretenders. No”if a couple of things go right” aspirants. No”maybe, only maybe” hopefuls.
Actual contenders only.
The Clippers, by virtue of being said after that debut, are one contender.
Free of the shadow cast by Donald Sterling and imbued with the frightening enthusiasm and impossibly deep pockets of new owner Steve Ballmer, the Clips will seem to lock a top-three seed in the West again. This time, tough, they will aspire to progress to the Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history.
The bulk of the responsibility falls on the familiar shoulders of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, two players who may easily lead the Clips to another No. 1 finish in offensive efficiency. Together with Doc Rivers’ leadership and (hopefully) another measure from DeAndre Jordan, L.A. is in great position for another deep playoff run.
There are concerns.
The wing positions are weak behind J.J. Redick. Matt Barnes is slated to start at the 3, and at age 34 there should be real worries that his 4.2 percent (yes, 4.2% ) shooting from long range during the preseason is less a blip and more a sign that his offensive game has dropped off a cliff.
Spencer Hawes was the group’s big offseason get, and as valuable as he is as a passer and floor-spacer, he won’t frighten anybody on defense.
If the offense remains elite and Rivers may manage his frontcourt rotation wisely, the Clippers might be slightly better than they were a year ago. That might be sufficient for them to reach heights they have never reached before.
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