The Los Angeles Clippers are now the favorites in the NBA’s Western Conference to make it to the NBA Finals. The trade deadline has come and gone, and the Clippers are the only team among the elite in the west to make any moves whatsoever, and they may not be done. The Clippers have taken off with superstar point guard Chris Paul back on the court and continuing to prove why they are the team to beat in the loaded Western Conference.
L.A. learned during Paul’s recent 18-game absence due to a shoulder injury how to play with the superstar on the sideline. Having arguably the best point guard in basketball unavailable helped All-Star Blake Griffin take the next step in his development. Center DeAndre Jordan and guard Jamal Crawford also stepped up tremendously in Paul’s absence, and now with their point guard back there is no stopping the Clippers moving forward.
It was widely assumed that the one move that L.A. needed to make to go from fringe title contender to legitimate threat to win it all, and that move was ushering in a third big man to rotate in with Griffin and Jordan. The floundering Orlando Magic recently bought out power forward Glen Davis, and if the old adage holds true then Orlando’s trash will most definitely be L.A.’s treasure.
“It gives us another big,” head coach Doc Rivers told the Clippers team website. “What I like about a guy like that is he can play the 5 or the 4. He knows my system,” said Rivers.
He was right, Davis does know his system. The two were paired up in Boston with the Celtics where Davis thrived under his tutelage. Davis is a proven scorer and rebounder with playoff experience and is an absolute perfect fit with the Clippers.
It is puzzling to watch veterans like Hedo Turkoglu and Glen Davis just fall into the Clippers’ laps. Similar things have happened in recent years with the Miami Heat landing Chris Andersen or the Pacers even more recently bringing in Andrew Bynum and Evan Turner for next to nothing. The bigger issue is that the upper echelon of teams is all in to win right now, while the rest stand by idly while those teams pluck great under-the-radar veterans off the free agent market after buyout season. Caron Butler was recently bought out by the disastrous Milwaukee Bucks, and the two-time defending champion Heat are right there in line to bring him in.
But, that is not all. Danny Granger was recently bought out by the Philadelphia 76ers and is very much on L.A.’s radar. The former Indiana Pacers All-Star would give the Clippers just another huge outside threat off the bench. A player of his caliber would leave the Clippers seemingly without a weakness and put some enormous pressure on Oklahoma City and San Antonio in the battle for the west.
The Clippers are now favorites in the NBA’s Western Conference due to improved play around Chris Paul and a couple of crafty trade deadline moves, provided they land Granger. One issue surrounding the team is its propensity to underperform on the road, but down the stretch it is hard to believe Doc Rivers will allow them to play down to the competition. This team is completely loaded with talent and poised to make a run unlike any other in Clippers history.
By Justin Hussong