7) Los Angeles Clippers 56-26 in the 2012-2013 season. 4th in the West. 1st in the Pacific.
The Clippers were able to nab one of the top coaches in the league in Doc Rivers. Now he can be paired up with superstar Point Guard Chris Paul and the rest of this talented Clippers team to try and make progress in the crowded Western Conference. They have taken over the Lakers now for the top team in Los Angeles, yet they're looking for more now...they're looking for a title. With the amount of talent this team has, they have at least a decent shot at it. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are a young and exciting front court, and alongside new additions Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick, this year's Clippers could be the darkhorse for the NBA Title.
Acquired: J.J. Redick, Jared Dudley, Darren Collison, Byron Mullens, Antwan Jamison
Drafted: Reggie Bullock (#25)
Lost: Eric Bledsoe, Lamar Odom, Chauncey Billups, Grant Hill, Ronny Turiaf, Caron Butler
Starters: Chris Paul (PG), J.J. Redick (SG), Matt Barnes (SF), Blake Griffin (PF), DeAndre Jordan (C)
Bench: Jamal Crawford (SG), Jared Dudley (SF), Darren Collison (PG), Byron Mullens (PF), Reggie Bullock (SG)
Up: Jared Dudley - Jared Dudley has to be super excited to be out of the tough situation in Phoenix. In his seven year career, Dudley has only been a part of the playoffs in one year, in the 2009-2010 season where Dudley was solely a bench player for the Suns. Now on a team in a great situation with star players, this could be a much more telling year of what exactly Jared Dudley can bring to the table on a contending team.
Down: Jamal Crawford - Crawford was really one of the only scoring threats on the bench for this team last year. They were willing to let him launch up shots at will and play his game off the bench. However this year, the bench looks a bit more crowded, especially at his position. He'll be competing for time with J.J. Redick and rookie Reggie Bullock. After nearly winning the 6th-Man of the Year award in the previous season, it'll be interesting to see what Crawford thinks of the new look Clippers' bench.
X-Factor: Blake Griffin - While Chris Paul is the best player on this team, the most recognizable might just be their youthful Power Forward, Blake Griffin. Griffin stole the show when he won the Slam Dunk Contest in 2011 by jumping over a car, yet his highlights in games seem to be the occasional amazing dunk. There's a lack of post up moves in his game, and the team could really use him to be a more effective inside presence on offense and defense. This year will be very telling for his image throughout his career.
Question to Ponder...What if Blake and Chris Paul can't work together?
There have been plenty of rumors surrounding the assumption that CP3 and Blake haven't exactly gotten along in LA. While I don't really agree with that, I do believe that their styles of play contradict each other in a way. Chris Paul is an all-around Point Guard who works best with a PF who can demand a double-team inside the paint. He did that best with David West in New Orleans. However that's not really Blake's style of play. Griffin is one of those big play guys, yet right now he isn't an elbow jumpshooter or even a post-up player. That could cause issues when Chris Paul is getting double-teamed outside the paint. Sure this team has a bunch of shooters, but not anyone who can demand a double-team inside the paint. Can these two coexist? It's something to think about.
Bold Prediction for the Los Angeles Clippers: Chris Paul will lead the league in Steals Per Game and Assists Per Game!
With all the new look weapons around him, this year seems very promising for Chris Paul. Last year Paul lead the league in SPG, yet was beat out by Rajon Rondo in APG, who will be injured for a good portion of the year. You also have to hope that either Griffin or Jordan can develop some kind of game inside to help the Clippers when it comes to spacing the defense. If this team is looking to make a deep run, Chris Paul is going to have to be at his best, and I have no problem predicting a monster year from arguably the best Point Guard in the entire league. He will lead the league in steals once again, and fend off the other star Point Guards to lead the league in APG. Another huge year for Paul.
Projected Record: 54-28 4th in the West, 1st in the Pacific.