by Chris Tagawa
Lakers, Lakers, Lakers. That is all I ever get from this site. It's time to recognize the only good team in L.A.: the Clippers!
You may recognize me as the “I told you so participant” from last year, so I wanted to make sure I got my piece in before the season.
The Clippers are for real this year. Players are talking championship and I would have to agree. The entire nucleus from a team that went to game 7 of the second round of last year's Western Conference championship is back. Add to that a healthy Corey Maggette and the free agent acquisition of Tim Thomas, and you have one of the deepest teams in the NBA. Not that it matters, but even the end of the bench on this team (Daniel Ewing, James Singleton and Lamond Murray) are capable of quality minutes. This team has the talent to make a legitimate run at the title.
If there are any chinks (i.e. weaknesses not some racial slur) in the armor, here they are:
1) The leaders on this team are old. Sam Cassell and Cuttino Mobley are probably going to go down for extended periods of time to injury at some time during this season. While the depth is there in talent, I am not sure it is there in experience.
2) Tim Thomas averaged 11 points per game with the Suns last year. It seemed like way more than that, the Clippers paid for more than that, but you probably are not going to get any more than that. Even in his prime with Milwaukee (where he played with Cassell), he only averaged 14 points per game.
3) Chris Kaman has gone Hollywood. After three years of improvement, he turned down a 5 year $50 million contract extension and will likely be distracted by negotiations all year long. If you have ever watched a Clipper game you probably know that it does not take much for the Caveman to lose his train of thought on the court.
4) Corey Maggette is going to be a malcontent. Losing his starting job to Thomas (bad decision by management) is going to mean that when Maggette gets into the game he is going to shoot every time he touches the ball. Trade rumors will swirl all season long and the Clippers will end up trading him for nothing.
With all that being said, Mike Dunleavy rules this team with an iron hand and the veterans will limit the effects of any possible distractions. I look for the Clippers to finish second to only the Suns in the Pacific and advance to at least the Western Conference finals, with a championship run very possible.
*EDITOR'S NOTE: Chris is a friend of The Association, as well as a lifelong L.A. Clippers fan who knows his hoops. The opinions expressed by Chris are his own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the rest of us at The Association. We sure like reading them though.