Who Runs This Town?

Lakers or Clippers: Which is the best team in Los Angeles?
Point: The Clippers will be the alpha team Counter-Point: The Lakers are still city's finest
If the euphoria over the Los Angeles Lakers’ acquisition of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash has died down after a 1-4 start, perhaps it’s time to appreciate the other basketball franchise in the City of Angels. Yes, as good as the Lakers might appear on paper, it is the Clippers who ought to catch our attention this season. They are a team brimming with talent and can outrun the Lakers on a number of counts, which are as follows:

- In Jamal Crawford, Lamar Odom and Eric Bledsoe the Clippers have an enviable and possibly one of the deepest rosters in the league and the availability of Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill will only boost their fortunes. The Lakers’ bench pales in comparison.

- The Clippers are led by Chris Paul, an MVP candidate, who perhaps ranks behind only LeBron James and Kevin Durant in the value he brings to a franchise. Paul is clearly the best point guard in the league at the moment, with his ability to score, dish out assists and play defense, making him the best player on either team.

- The Lakers may have taken on one big gun too many. Chemistry issues and the lack of time to work with each other could cause them to stumble. Meanwhile, the Clippers’ core of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Caron Butler, DeAndre Jordan and Bledsoe have already spent enough time with each other to know what works best for them.

- The average age of Kobe Bryant (34), Pau Gasol (32), Steve Nash (38) and Metta World Peace (32) currently stands at 34. It is difficult to imagine these men having enough gas in them by the time the 2013 playoffs arrive. The Clippers' starters, a younger, more athletic bunch, have the advantage on this front as well.

- In the words of NBA.com writer, Fran Blinebury, “The NBA’s combination of longest-running soap opera/situation comedy of the past two decades has always been the ride on the day-to-day roller coaster of the Lakers.” Having brought together their own version of Real Madrid’s Galácticos, the Lakers will feel the pressure of the media’s scrutiny every time they come up anything short of a victory. The Clippers, on the other hand, will go relatively unnoticed, under everyone’s radar and surprise everyone with a long run in the 2013 postseason.

- Akshay Manwani
The 1-4 start may have some people panicking, but it’s just another season in the life of the NBA’s most dramatic franchise. The Lakers have been through the ups and downs before. True, they've started this season slowly, but by the time the regular season – and the playoffs – are over, this ultra-stacked roster will have figured out a way to rise above most other contenders out West. Including their upstart cousins down the Staples Center locker room – the Clippers.

- As I wrote yesterday, the Lakers starting five totals three MVP Awards, four DPOYs, eight championships, 18 All-NBA First team appearances, and 33 total All Star selections. The best center in the league, one of the greatest scorers and winners in history, the best passing big man, one of the best distributing point guards ever, and a solid defensive forward. Simply put: talent and experience wins in the NBA. The Lakers have a lot of both.

- In a league where size and defense usually wins, Dwight Howard is the NBA’s best big man and best defender. He carried a sub-par Magic team to several great seasons. He’ll do even better with the strong Lakers side.

- The Lakers are old, yes, but history has proven that, in many cases, NBA success comes with age. Younger guys have speed and athleticism, but many of the championship teams in the league have consisted of older, experienced players, who use their savvy to get to the finish line. In recent years, the success of the Spurs, Celtics, and Mavericks is proof.

- The Lakers have started slow, but so did the 2010-11 Heat (fresh with LeBron, Wade, and Bosh) and the 2003-04 Lakers (with Shaq, Kobe, Malone, and Payton), and both those teams reached the NBA Finals. The lesson here: Chemistry issues can take time in the NBA, but if a team has enough talent, they can succeed anyway.

- The Clippers have a lot of weapons but are a headless chicken without the brilliant Chris Paul and the supporting cast may have a difficult time keeping up their momentum as the season becomes more grueling.

The Clippers will be good this season, the Lakers will be even better. Rest assured, Los Angeles will still be a city of the purple and gold.

- Karan Madhok