The Los Angeles Clippers were one of the most exciting NBA teams to watch a year ago, but when push came to shove in the playoffs, they didn’t have what it takes to go on a deep playoff run. That led to the firing of former head coach Vinny Del Negro, the arrival of Doc Rivers, and a number of important changes that took place in domino effect following his hiring. Those moves will have the Clippers among the favorites in the Western Conference this coming year,
2013 NBA Championship Odds: + 1,400
Notable Change #1: Rivers Will Completely Change Culture As New Head Coach
Even when the Clippers were winning last season there were question marks about the way the offense operated and how their game plan would hold up in the playoffs when opposing defenses tightened up and were able to spend more time scouting them. Del Negro was on the hot seat from the beginning, and there are those that feel he should have been dismissed sooner. Rivers is a much more established coach with a championship pedigree who understands what it takes to win at the highest level. His staff will completely change the way Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and company are able to attack people with different sets and schemes, and will be able to maximize the talent at their disposal in a way that Del Negro was not able to do.
Notable Change #2: Redick, Dudley Brought In To Solidify Depth
Rivers would have probably loved to have a talent like Eric Bledsoe to come off his bench and play a supporting role behind Paul, but the Clippers were in a tough situation since they knew they would likely lose him as a restricted free agent eventually. Ultimately, Los Angeles opted to move him now while his value is still high, and they landed a couple of quality upgrades on the wing in JJ Redick and Jared Dudley. Both are low-maintenance players that are able to provide a spark off the bench with great pure shooting abilities, and that should provide some excellent depth on a team that struggled beyond its starters a year ago.
Notable Change #3: Collison Set To Replace Void Left By Bledsoe
The Clippers also lucked out with the acquisition of Darren Collison, who will take some of the minutes vacated by Bledsoe. Collison may not be the same talent that Bledsoe is, but he was a two-year starter with the Indiana Pacers that still has significant value playing behind Paul on this team. Collison, Redick, and Dudley as a trio could be considered an upgrade over Bledsoe on his won, so good on Los Angeles for solidifying its secondary scoring and getting some good value out of an asset they were going to have to deal anyway. This team’s success will still ultimately depend on the starters’ ability to play at an elite level under Rivers, but these moves will help takes some of the pressure off of them when it counts the most.
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