The Los Angeles Clippers have had an impressive journey this season, from their acquiring of new champion head coach Glen “Doc” Rivers, to their recently broken 11 game winning streak. This season, Clipper fans have seen the evolution of their young star power-forward Blake Griffin, and his stepping up in the absence of Chris Paul. The Clippers lead the league in points scored per game and are third in assists per game with a record of 48 wins and 21 losses.
The Clippers journey started in the off-season with their acquiring of Doc Rivers, dramatically changing the way the Clippers franchise was viewed within the NBA. For decades the Clipper organization was the laughing stock of the NBA, and even with the number one draft pick Blake Griffin, and the union of CP3 and the Clippers, the franchise still lacked respect around the league. When news hit the NBA that former championship coach Doc Rivers was headed to the Clippers, coaches, general managers, and team owners all shifted their attitudes about the Clippers organization. Doc commands respect from his players, and his attitude has reached out gaining respect from the head offices around the league.
Doc Rivers wasn’t the only palpable pick up this off-season by the clippers. The Clippers signed UCLA point-guard and LA native Darren Collison, who has come off the bench behind Chris Paul with an energy similar to Eric Bledsoe, who the Clippers traded in the off season. The team also acquired J.J. Redick, an excellent shooting guard who was misplaced around the league. Both of these players who were marginalized on their former teams found perfect roles in Los Angeles.
The team would also make impressive pick-ups throughout the season. The Clippers added Danny Granger from the Indiana Pacers, and Glen “Big Baby” Davis from the Orlando Magic. Both of these players help add depth to LA’s already impressive bench, composed of leading six-man of the year candidate Jamal Crawford and Darren Collison. The team also brought in point-forward Hedo Türkoğlu from waivers to help back up Griffin in the power-forward position.
The Los Angeles Clippers season journey has unfortunately been riddled with injuries. J.J. Redick has been dealing with a bulging disk in his back that has kept him out of the rotation for six weeks. Collison has missed the last four games due to a stomach virus, and Jamal Crawford has been missed five out of the last six games with a strained calf. Chris Paul was also out for several weeks with a knee injury short handing the clippers with four inactive guards. However, even with the daunting injuries, the Clippers were still able to continue being one of the hottest teams in the league, winning 14 of their last 17 thanks to the incredible play of Blake Griffin. NBA analysis and Hall of Famer Charles Barkley, said he believed the injury to Chris Paul was the best thing to happen to the Clippers since it forced Blake Griffin to really expand his game and step up as a leader. The incredible play of Griffin has even warranted his candidacy for Most Valuable Player award as he is second in the league behind Kevin Durrant for most 20 point plus games.
The Los Angeles Clippers season journey has been a special one for Clipper fans with the emergence of Blake Griffin, and the influence Doc Rivers has had on the franchise. The Clippers are America’s team with the franchise colors of red white and blue, and the easy to hate target on their back. Not too mention their advancement from being one the worst franchises in the NBA to a Western Conference powerhouse is analogous to the American Dream. All new franchises or aspiring franchises can look at the Clipper’s cultural accomplishments as a model of success, with a strong head office and efficient draft choices, a team can excel in the NBA.
Commentary by Zane Foley