From here , it is all untrue. No pretenders. No more“if a couple of things go right“ aspirants. No“maybe, just perhaps“ hopefuls.
Actual contenders only.
The Clippers, by virtue of being said after that introduction, are just one competition.
Free of the shadow cast by Donald Sterling and imbued with the frightening enthusiasm and deep pockets of new owner Steve Ballmer, the Clips will look to lock up a top-three seed from the West again. This moment, tough, they will aspire to progress to the Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history.
The majority of the responsibility falls on the familiar shoulders of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, two players who may readily lead the Clips to yet another No. 1 end in offensive efficiency. With Doc Rivers’ leadership and (hopefully) another step from DeAndre Jordan, L.A. is in great position for yet another deep playoff run.
There are concerns.
The wing positions are somewhat weak behind J.J. Redick. Matt Barnes is supposed to start in the 3, and at age 34 there ought to be real worries that his 4.2 percentage (yes, 4.2% ) shooting from long range during the preseason is not as a blip and more a signal his offensive game has dropped off a cliff.
Spencer Hawes has been the group’s big offseason get, and as valuable as he is as a passer and floor-spacer, he will not scare anybody on protection.
If the crime remains elite and Rivers may manage his frontcourt rotation wisely, the Clippers might be slightly better than they were a year ago. That may be sufficient for them to achieve heights they’ve never attained.