With the acquisition of Chris Paul in the 2011-2012 season, the Los Angeles Clippers climbed out from the cellar of the NBA’s Western Conference. The Clippers never had much of a history of winning and were constantly in the shadow of the Los Angeles Lakers. Alongside second-year forward Blake Griffin, the two became the engine that fueled six trips to the Western Conference Finals. These were two superstars that put the Clippers on the map. However, with every new beginning the Los Angeles Clippers top players are fresh faces. Furthermore, the recent unlikely success of the Los Angeles Clippers is definitely something to take notice of.
After failing to reach the finals for six straight years, Chris Paul requested a trade to the Houston Rockets. Subsequently, Blake Griffin was traded a couple months later, leaving the Clippers with some good players, but no stars. Through it all their effort did not fade and with all their roster changes, they still are a couple game above .500.
The Unlikely Success of the Los Angeles Clippers
This offseason was interesting, to say the least, for the Clippers. They traded their star point guard but signed Blake Griffin to a max contract in the offseason. It was clear the Clippers wanted Griffin to be the centerpiece of their future.
The Clippers season started on a high note. Winning four straight games. They seemed to be a potent team to face. Although with injuries they went on to lose 11 of their next 12 games. After a trying first half of the season, the Clippers decided to trade Griffin to the Detroit Pistons for a couple players to build more depth, plus draft picks to build for the future.
The Top Players
Thinking about the Clippers roster, no name really stands out. Maybe DeAndre Jordan, but he may be traded by next season as well. All of the players on their roster never been considered the number one player on their past teams. Each player has played their role and has stepped up when needed.
One of the newest Clippers, Lou Williams was traded as a piece of the Chris Paul trade.The 12 year NBA veteran is having a career year. Averaging career highs most notably in points, assists, and three-pointers. Williams seems to be adjusting to his role as one of the number one players on the team. He had great players to learn from on the Rockets such as James Harden. He signed a three-year extension with the team in February and looks to be a key part of their success going forward.
Acquired in the Griffin trade, Tobias Harris broke out with the Magic as one of the more explosive scorers in the league. He’s scoring a career high in points and three-point percentage. Harris’ ability to drive to the basket is supremely underrated and makes him a super valuable player.
The former New York Knicks draft pick has spent most of his career with the Denver Nuggets. Danilo Gallinari joined the Clippers in the offseason after being traded in a three-team deal. He’s been plagued with injury throughout his career and this season is no different. However, when he’s on his game, Gallinari can be one of the most dynamic scorers on the team. He is only two years removed from averaging 20 points a game.
The former Duke stand out has never really formed into the player he was at college. Taking a bench role most of his playing time. With all the injuries occurring to this squad, Austin Rivers has stepped up. Not only by averaging a career high in points, but also assists and three-point percentage. Perhaps his most memorable moment of the season was when he scored 36 and 38 points back to back for the Clippers.
Depth and More Depth
One of the main reasons for the Clippers success is how deep their lineup is. Multiple players can score all around the arc and they’re getting contributions from individuals that aren’t household names. Players such as Montrezl Harrell and Tyrone Wallace. Patrick Beverly who was one of their key acquisitions in the Chris Paul trade has not played many games this season. Milos Teodosic another offseason acquisition has been very inconsistent offensively and also has been injured. With injuries ravaging through their lineup you’d expect a losing record. Yet this team is three games above .500.
With all the trades, injuries, and lineup changes Doc Rivers deserves a gold medal for the way he has coached this team. Most would expect a losing record, yet they will be going into the all-star break most likely in the postseason picture.
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