By: Travis Thayer (@TheTravisThayer)
2012-13 Record: 56-26
Projected 2013-14 Finish: 1st in the Pacific
Projected Starting Lineup
Chris Paul has never played in the Conference Finals. Just think about that, the best point guard in the league has never advanced past the second round. Which begs the question, is he really the league’s best point guard? This year will be a telling year for Paul because the Clippers have reloaded, and they now have a competent coach in Doc Rivers. There are no excuses for the Clippers this year, which means it is time for Paul to make a run at the NBA Finals. We all know Paul is a great player and he is going to do everything he can to win, but the jury is still out on whether or not he has the right supporting cast to win it all. DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin make up one of the best young front-courts in the NBA, but they will need to become way more physical this season. The two have been manhandled the last two years in the playoffs by Memphis’ Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. The two will need to be much improved on defense and rebounding the basketball, and the Clippers hope Byron Mullens will help the cause of the bench. The development of Jordan and Griffin will be key, but the amount of shooters the Clips have may offset any rebounding discrepancy. J.J. Redick, Jared Dudley, Willie Green, Jamal Crawford and Antawn Jamison have all shown the ability to stretch the floor. The Clippers have a chance to be deadly on the offensive end with all the shooters, and Paul running pick-and-roll with the bigs.
At the end of the day, the Clippers are quite possibly the most talented team in the Western Conference. We are still waiting for Chris Paul to carry his team to the promised land because he is capable of being that guy. He has a lot of really nice players around him, and the team should challenge for the number one seed in the West. The difference between this team and the team that has failed in the playoffs two years in a row is Doc Rivers. Doc knows how to win deep into the playoffs, and I believe that his presence on the sideline will finally help Chris Paul get to the Conference Finals.