We are only five days away from the tip-off of the 2013-14 season and the buzz surrounding the Clippers has only been seen in their hometown rivals. With a new coach, new bench players and a new mentality, expectations could not be higher for the success of this season. With that being said, here are seven incredibly bold predictions for the upcoming season. Now, as outlandish as they may sound at the moment, all of these scenarios could very well come about. Don’t underestimate the Clippers this season.
1. Blake Griffin will average 20 points and 15 rebounds
During the first two seasons of his career, Blake Griffin exceeded the 20 point per game mark while averaging 22.5 and 20.7 points per game, respectively. Last season he fell off a bit, averaging 18.5 points per game. However, he has struggled to meet expectations in the field of rebounding, only averaging above 10 rebounds once in the last 3 years and fell below the 10 board per game mark last season. All of these years are behind him, though. My prediction is that Griffin will come out on a mission to prove that he belongs with the league’s elite. In order to do that, he will have to consistently dominate on the defensive and rebounding areas of his game. With a newfound passion, Griffin will average 20 points and 15 rebounds per game and be a huge part of the Clippers dominance of the offensive and defensive glass this season.
2. J.J. Redick will finish in the top 5 in 3-point field goals made
With the Clippers lacking a serious 3-point threat last season, J.J. Redick should get significant minutes and an opportunity to contribute to the Clippers’ offensive attack. Last season, Redick made 165 threes playing for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Orlando Magic. No disrespect to either team, but the Clippers will provide Redick a far better situation to put up solid numbers. Based on last season’s three-point leaderboard, Redick would have needed to make 20 additional threes to finish in the top five. Redick should see plenty of open looks from ball reversals, pin-downs and kick-out situations. With a vast amount of offensive weapons that the Clippers possess, Redick should be able to get plenty of open looks every single night. Expect J.J. Redick to be knocking down many jumpers from long-range this season.
3. Clippers will sweep the season series against the Lakers
The Clippers will play the Lakers four times with season. The first coming on opening night, Oct. 29, and the following three games will come on Jan. 10, March 6 and April 6. There is no doubt that the Clippers possess more talent than the Lakers this season as the Lakers are stuck in a rebuilding year. On the first contest next week, it is presumed that Kobe Bryant will not play, leaving the Lakers with very little offensive power. The Clippers should win handily. The next three contests will pose more of a challenge as they will come in the heart of the season and the final two coming towards the end of the season where fatigue and injuries set in. However, the Clippers are coming off one of their best seasons ever, have one of the league’s most potent rosters and are finally the best team in Los Angeles. This spells trouble for the reeling Lakers, as the Clippers are primed to sweep the season series for the second straight year.
4. Chris Paul will win MVP
LeBron James‘ run of three straight MVP titles will finally come to an end this season as Chris Paul will reign supreme. Although James has been dominating the MVP race over the past few seasons, Chris Paul is one of the challengers capable of prying the title away this year. Paul finished fourth in voting last season with 289 points. The Clippers won a franchise-best 56 games, but Paul only managed 16.9 points per game, almost 2 points below his career average. It is quite possible that Paul could average a career high in assists with all of the offensive weapons the Clippers possess; and with Rajon Rondo out until possibly December, Paul leading the league in assists in not such a far-fetched idea. While the team has added more offensive firepower, Paul’s numbers should improve as the floor becomes more balanced on offense. If Paul can improve his scoring numbers and churn out a double-double average, James could be in a battle for the MVP race.
5. Doc Rivers will win Coach of the Year
Doc Rivers will not only change the mentality of each and every player on the Clippers, he will change the way the team performs as a whole. One thing Vinny Del Negro could not establish during his tenure with the Clippers was an effective half-court offense. If you have seen any of the Clippers’ preseason games, it is evident that this was one of the first things on Rivers’ to-do list. The Clippers look more poised and less hectic on the offensive end, and with Chris Paul running the show, success is inevitable. Another facet of the game Rivers will preach is defense. Having advocated for strong defense in Boston, Rivers knows that they key to a championship team is defense and that no matter how offensively talented a team is, the best defense always wins (Golden State Warriors vs. San Antonio Spurs in 2013 playoffs). Rivers is a proven winner and that is what the Clippers will do this season: win. He will be the NBA’s Coach of the Year for 2014.
6. Clippers will win 60+ games
After winning a franchise-best 56 games last season, the Los Angeles Clippers made plenty of changes. Most notably, Doc Rivers was brought it to coach the team. Last season, the Clippers looked like one of the league’s best teams on paper, but they needed more guidance from the sidelines; well they definitely got it. Considering the injuries that have plagued teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets and Oklahoma City Thunder, the Clippers could match last season’s win total and perhaps steal a few games early due to injury concerns. The Clippers were one of the better road teams in the league last season, winning 24 games. However, if they can improve on their 32-9 home record, the Clippers should reach the 60-win mark.
7. Clippers will win the Western Conference
It’s time…the Clippers are ready. They have a future Hall of Fame coach in Doc Rivers. They have a future Hall of Fame point guard in Chris Paul and they have surrounded him with an incredible supporting cast who can score and, most importantly, defend with the best of them. As one of the best teams in the league, the Clippers can and will compete with any team on any night. They have enough talent to embarrass the less talented teams and give the elite teams (Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets, Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs, etc…) a serious run for their money. With a final record of 62-20, the Los Angeles Clippers will win the Western Conference.