This was a tough one. And, for all those faithful readers out there putting one and one together, you know who’s next.
I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Chris Paul and the Clippers. People hate them for their chippiness and the endless parade of bitching to the refs for every single call. For their undeserved sense of entitlement after flaming out in the first or second round of the playoffs every single year. And by the way, last year against the Rockets? I still can’t get over falling asleep happy in the third quarter of game 6 and waking up to see one of the biggest postseason collapses ever.
I kinda like these guys, though. I like the bizarre Hollywood drama and the Deandre Jordan banana boat nonsense. I like Blake Griffin lounging out in the zone and dunking over Kias. I like the Austin Rivers daddy’s boy saga and how the Clips actually think this kid is now some kind of defensive stopper who should be playing at shooting guard during crunch time (Right in front of him Blake?? C’mon!) Hell, I even like how much of an asshole Chris Paul is. There was an excellent Zach Lowe podcast where he was interviewing JJ Redick about convincing Deandre Jordan to stay in L.A. and Redick mentioned that he went to Jordan’s house along with Chris, Griffin, Paul Pierce, and Doc Rivers and four of them started playing spades to kill some time before food came. When Lowe asked who won Redick paused for a long couple of seconds and then answered “Well, Chris really hates losing.”
THIS GUY CAN’T EVEN STAND LOSING AT CARDS!! I mean, he was there trying to convince Deandre Jordan to stay with the Clippers and he couldn’t even let him win a game of spades. It goes even beyond the kind of Kobe level competitiveness; this guy is such a dominant leader on the court that even when the mens’ Olympic team plays, it’s Paul who acts as the captain on the court, not Lebron or Bryant. Steph Curry is pretty much dancing on the grave of the who is the best point guard in the NBA argument but it would be hard to find a better all-around floor general or dogged defender than CP3.
But the rest of this team, doe. I would argue that only in Oklahoma City is there a better one-two punch than Paul and Blake Griffin. And for the people who don’t think Griffin is one of the ten or twelve best players in the NBA, get outta here. The dude was easily the best player in the league during the first round of the playoffs last year and threw the whole team over his back to beat San Antonio. Not just with dunks either, Griffin may not have three point range but he’s developed an almost automatic mid-range jumper and is arguably the best play-making power forward in the league. People are so terrified of ending up on a BG poster that they sag all the way off of him and let him do whatever he wants.
Plus the Clippers actually have a bench this year! After a gross season of watching Spencer Hawes and the gross corpse of Hedo Turkoglu, these guys have big-time athletes like Wesley Johnson and Josh Smith. They have ex-Knick Cole “Cole World” Aldrich backing up Deandre. AND THEY GOT PAUL PIERCE!! Literally my favorite in-your-face loudmouth is joining a whole team full of in-your-face loudmouths and reuniting with his championship coach who is also, by the way, an in-your-face loudmouth. It’s hard to even make this stuff up.
All of this depth should go a long way towards propelling LA to an even better record than last year’s 56 wins. It may even let Paul and Jordan take a couple of nights off; Paul played all 82 last year and Deandre hasn’t missed a game since 2011. And, while the real success or failure of this all-in year will really be determined in the playoffs, lob city is going to be damn exciting to watch every night until they get there.