The Los Angeles Clippers have not been relevant for a while. Not since the 2005-06 season has the team had a winning record, or even made a trip to the playoffs. Prior to that the team had endured eight straight losing years and hadn’t been relevant since the days of Danny Manning, Ron Harper and Mark “Mama there goes that man” Jackson was serving up assists, rather than creating clichés behind the microphone.
Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon and DeAndre Jordan – putting the LA Clippers back on the map.
This season has begun to change all that. Blake Griffin has burst on to the scene and has been a phenomenon in his first year, putting up 22.5ppg and 12.1rpg. Griffin’s high flying, dunk over, around, or on top of would be defenders act, has seen him throw down the second most slams this season. His 214 rim rattlers saw him sit just behind Dwight Howard’s 227. Eric Gordon is also catching the eye and has improved each season in his young three year career, culminating in this season’s solid 22.3 points per game and 4.4 assists performance. Throw in to the mix DeAndre Jordan, who has been a great accompaniment to Griffin’s high-wire act, by throwing down 158 slams himself, which saw him sit third in this season’s dunk charts behind Howard and Griffin. LA’s ‘other team’ sure has been determined this season to prove there is more than one show in Tinseltown.
The LA Clippers’ record is improving
The Clippers have not only been exciting, but they’re also improving, as their record has stepped up from a dismal 19 – 63 three years ago to 32-50 last season. While not a turnaround of San Antonio Spurs proportions, when they had 20 wins in ‘96/97 to 56 wins the following year, although that had a bit to do with David Robinson missing a season with injury and drafting Tim Duncan. It is gradual baby steps, as the Clippers seem to be finally building a team with some foundations.
Building blocks for the future
This week they extended a qualifying offer to DeAndre Jordan, whilst also picking up options on Eric Bledsoe and Al-Farouq Aminu. Showing that the Clippers are at least determined to not let their building blocks leave without a fight. They have also been rumoured to be shopping the good, but oft injured center Chris Kaman to the Philadelphia 76ers for Andre Iguodala. This would show faith in DeAndre Jordan to fill the void left by Kaman, but would also provide yet more spectacular above the rim highlights with Iguodala, which I’m not sure the Clippers need right now? However, it could also be viewed as a sign that they are trying to build around Blake Griffin, so he stays in town for a while and doesn’t depart in Elton Brand style. Brand left for Philadelphia despite the signing of Baron Davis and since his arrival in Philly, Igoudala’s numbers have regressed each season Brand has been there. It would be somewhat ironic if he were to resurrect his career with Brand’s former team.
|Iguodala since Brand’s arrival||
The Clippers are also nicely under the salary cap which will allow them to bring in some talent around Griffin, Gordon and Jordan – should they hold on to him. They also went 11-10 through March and April to end the season, highlighting that things are looking up for Los Angeles’ other team.
Could the LA Clippers make the Playoffs next season?
The Clippers last made the Playoffs in 2006, which was co-incidentally the last time they had a better record than their purple and gold neighbours. If the Clippers continue to take the baby steps they’ve shown over the past few seasons, then one thing is for sure, basketball is going to be exciting in Los Angeles next year. However, one question still remains in all of this… Can the Los Angeles Clippers conceivably make the playoffs next season? I, for one, think yes.