After countless years of early draft picks that didn't work
out, the 2011-2012 Los Angeles Clippers season is filled with promise. Forward
Blake Griffin and guard Eric Gordon have emerged as NBA superstars. The only
other thing on the Clippers wish list is to have an actual 82 game season.
This is a very young basketball team and a continuation of
the NBA Lockout could take away at least one season in which the Clippers are
continuing to form their team chemistry.
This is a franchise that's persisted in drafting early due
to poor seasons but has been unable to make the correct draft picks until guard
Eric Gordon the 2008 draft and Blake Griffin in the 2009 draft. The
Clippers have a roster composed of 8 players born in 1988 or later, with their
two main stars included in that group
Let's break down the different positions and see what the
future holds for this up and coming franchise and the futures betting odds.
Every team needs a least two legitimate stars on their team
to be a possible contender and shooting guard Eric Gordon is the number two
player on the Clips. Gordon played in 56 games last season (missing games due
to injury) and was 2nd on the team in scoring at 22.3 points per game. Gordon
isn't a one dimensional player. He averaged 4.4 assists and 2.9 rebounds per
game while managing to be an efficient shooter. Free throw shooting is key in tight games, teams need the players that can shoot 80% or better. Gordon shot 82.5% from the line, 45% from the field, and 36.4% from 3 point range. This
is an overall above average offensive player and at 22 years old, there's
room for improvement
At point guard, towards the latter half of last season, the
Clippers picked up Mo Williams from Cleveland for veteran Baron Davis. This is
a good move for Los Angeles. Williams wanted out of Cleveland and although
Baron Davis is a very good player, he was on the decline while Mo is in his
prime. His play for the Clippers proved it. In the 22 games that he played for
LA, he averaged 15.2 points, 5.6 assists, and 2.6 rebounds per game. He
improved his shooting from 38.5% in Cleveland to 42.2% in LA. Williams also
improved his 3 point shooting, from 26.5% in Cleveland to a dazzling 39.8% in
Los Angeles. Mo Williams is also a reliable free throw shooter at 88%. This was
a great move by the Clippers. Mo Williams is a capable third option that can
setup superstar Blake Griffin and shooting guard Eric Gordon while bringing
high energy to a young team.
At the backup guards, the Clippers are fairly solid, adding
Travis Leslie of Georgia in the 2nd round of the 2011 NBA draft to their
Randy Foye started 24 out of the 63 games that he played. he
averaged 24.6 minutes per game, 9.8 points, 2.7 assists, and 1.6 rebounds per
game. Foye's shooting was lackluster (38.8% from the field) but he's an
offensive presence and yet another Clipper that can knock down his free throws,
Point guard Eric Bledsoe, whose's only 21 years old can give
some relief at the point for Williams. Bledsoe can do a little bit of
everything. He averaged 6.7 points, 3.6 assists, and 2.8 rebounds in his 22.7
minutes of play. Look for a more significant showing from Bledsoe this season.
LA landed Travis Leslie out of Georgia as the 47th pick in
the draft (2nd round). Leslie can shoot from the field, shoot from the line,
and brings a rebounding presence at only 6 foot 4. Leslie averaged 14.4 points
and 7.2 rebounds in his junior season before turning pro.
This is a position that embodies the Clippers as a
basketball team. Blake Griffin is one of the most exciting stars in the NBA
with possibly the most potential. At 6 foot 10, 251 pounds, this power forward
is the complete total package. A player that's mentally and physically far
developed beyond his years. Griffin has turned the team from a laughing stock
to a possible playoff contender that can beat the best teams on any given day.
Griffin averaged an amazing 22.5 points, 12.1 rebounds, and
3.8 assists per game. He shot 50.6% from the field and had about as good a 1st
year as it get's. With Mo Williams at point guard and another year under his
belt, expect Blake Griffin to get better and for this team to improve. One
negative to his game is his foul shooting. Griffin averaged 64.2% from the line
and it's a place where he'll need to improve. He averaged 8.5 free throw
attempts per game.
The other offensive production from the forward position
will come from wide bodied (6'7',245) Ryan Gomes. Gomes is a career 10 point
per game scorer but on a team with Griffin and Gordon, you have to share the
ball. Gomes averaged 7.2 points and 3.3 rebounds in 27.6 minutes of play. He's
not a player that's going to blow you over with talent but his pure size is an
added plus to go along with Griffin.
The Clippers also possess power forward Ike Diogu and
developing 2nd year player Al- Farouq Aminou. Diogu is another big body (250
pounds) to go along with the other forwards. He's not a big minute player and
get's injured often but is good for a few rebounds and a few buckets per game.
Aminu is young and has potential to be a fairly good player in this league.
Regardless, this team and group of forwards is based around and led by Blake
At the 37th pick in the draft, the Clippers drafted another
Georgia Bulldog to go along with Travis Leslie. Trey Thompkins is happy to be
playing with Leslie and this young team. He's a big sized forward (6 foot 9 ,
247 pounds) and is an offensive threat that's good on the glass. Thompkins
averaged 16.4 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks with the Bulldogs. It looks
like the Clippers collected a nice set of 2nd round draft picks.
Even though Blake Griffin could play center if he had to,
he's not a true center. The Clippers look to veteran center Chris Kaman for
producton. With Kaman, you pretty much know what your going to get. He's an
active player with a nice offensive touch. He had a great season in 2009-2010
but the Clippers will take 12.4 points and 7 rebounds from Kaman considering
their supporting cast. He needs to stay healthy. Kaman only played in 32 games
The Clippers other option at center is youngster DeAndre
Jordan. Jordan averaged 7.1 points , 7.2 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game.
Jordan shot an amazing 68.6% from the field but was disastrous at the free
throw line, shooting 45.2%. He's another name to the list of massive
(size-wise) players on the Clippers roster at 6 foot 11, 265 pounds. Look for
Jordan to improve this season. The foul shooting is what it is, I don't expect
it to change.
What to expect?
The Los Angeles Clippers are listed at 50/1 in the basketball odds to win the
NBA Title and as good as Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon are, I wouldn't expect a
miracle. They're at least one season away (and that's being generous) to being
a legitimate contender. However, their interstate rivals the Los Angeles
Lakers, have slowed down while the Clippers are gradually improving and
narrowing the gap where that comparison is concerned. Los Angeles was 32-50
last season. If everyone is healthy, I expect a definite improvement in this
upcoming season if there's no stoppage in play due to the Lockout.
Prediction: Los Angeles Clippers 40-42
I like the new NBA picks from the draft, the addition of Mo Williams was
a very good one. If Eric Gordon can stay healthy, look for an 8-10 game
improvement in the win column.