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2016-17 Season Preview: LA Clippers

Scott Howard-Cooper

Scott Howard-Cooper NBA.com

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Oct 12, 2016 1:03 PM ET

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The Clippers broke apart, but did not break up. Doc Rivers, the head of basketball operations as well as the coach, kept the core of the roster together after injuries crushed L.A. hopes in the playoffs, setting the stage for what should be another interesting season. Either sticking with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick pays off once and for all or another year ends in disappointment.

ICYMI

Crawford, Austin Rivers, Wesley Johnson and Luc Mbah a Moute all re-signed as free agents, keeping the bulk of the bench in place…. Another potential key reserve, Marreese Speights, arrived from rival Golden State with a free-agent deal…. Several offseason moves, in fact, were to add big men: Speights, Brandon Bass and Brice Johnson.

THREE POINTS

  1. Let’s see how the Clippers use the end of last season – the way injuries piled up around them and created the opportunity for Portland to finish them off – at the start of this season. Some teams would put it in the past, some would use it as motivation.
     
  2. Few stars need to find stability more than Blake Griffin after his 2015-16 of injuries – plural – and the sidewalk rumble that led to a suspension. He can use a season with only the right kind of noise.
     
  3. A team with Griffin and Jordan still finished 29th in rebounding percentage. No wonder so much of the Clippers’ offseason was spent on adding to the front line.

MAN ON THE SPOT

Blake Griffin, as strange as it to say coming off a season of 21.4 points and 8.4 rebounds. But his 2015-16 was that muddled. He needs to show the health problems of last season were a temporary storm, not the start of a bad trend, and that he can handle his emotions.

STARTING LINEUP

Chris Paul | 19.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 10.0 apg
Still one of the best point guards and one of the best leaders

J.J. Redick | 16.3 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.4 apg
Doesn’t get enough recognition on a team of big names, but: 47.5 percent on 3-pointers

Paul Pierce | 6.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.0 apg
A placeholder name more than anything for a position that remains unsettled.

Blake Griffin | 21.4 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 4.9 apg
Also, his shooting percentage has declined four seasons in a row.

DeAndre Jordan | 12.7 ppg, 13.8 rpg, 1.2 apg
Now up to three consecutive seasons of at least 13.6 rebounds per game.

KEY RESERVES

Jamal Crawford | 14.2 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 2.3 apg
Three-time winner of Sixth Man of the Year and a candidate to win another

Luc Mbah a Moute | 3.1 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 0.4 apg
Could become the starting small forward and also back up Griffin at power forward

Austin Rivers | 8.9 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 1.5 apg
The 8.9 points while mostly playing behind Paul marked a career high in scoring

THE BOTTOM LINE

Kevin Durant’s departure from Oklahoma City clears the way for the Clippers to open the season as the consensus No. 3 in the Western Conference, which is not a bad spot. It just doesn’t mean much, though, for a team that has been considered a possible contender, health willing, for years. L.A. is in the same spot as other times in recent years in other ways, trying to turn potential into reality.

Scott Howard-Cooper has covered the NBA since 1988. You can e-mail him here and follow him on Twitter.

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