By Yusuf Gadlin
First let me say, continue to rest in heaven Sandra Bland. I hope justice will be served and that this nation will one day accept everyone no matter the color of their skin or religious beliefs.
Now let’s talk Basketball.
The Los Angeles Clippers made some major noise this off season. They got Paul Peirce to provide big time shot making and veteran leadership. The also traded for Lance Stephenson, hoping to replicate a more productive and younger version of out casted Matt Barnes. After all of the drama involved with the comical Deandre Jordan saga, the Clippers eventually resigned him to a Max contract and massaged his fragile ego along the way. Factor in the versatility of the newest Clipper Josh Smith, and you have a supremely talented team.
In the end, only the heart matters for this team though.
How bad do Chris Paul want to win a championship? This will be his most talented team yet. If the Clippers come up short this year, Chris Paul will definitely be a first ballot candidate for most overrated player of all time. Having never been past the second round of the playoffs, Paul needs to rely on Blake Griffin more the ever before.
Blake Griffin is coming off a season where he averaged 22pts and 7 rebounds in 67 games. His 7 rebounds are the lowest of his career which means he is regressing when it comes to the physicality of the Power forward position. Teams still believe Blake Griffin is Charmin tissue, and its up to him to play with aggression and eliminate that stigma all together. How bad does Blake Griffin want to prove he is no longer a pushover, but a superior man amongst men? Only time will tell.
My final deciding factor in terms of the Clippers heart lies within its bench. Can Jamal Crawford do more than dribble and jack up three pointers? Can he and Lance Stephenson co exist, when they both need the ball in their hands to be the special players that they are? Can JJ Redick redeem himself after a miserable display of mental toughness when his team needed him most? And finally the wild card Josh Smith. Josh Smith was a key reason the Houston Rockets eliminated the Clippers last year. This year, Smith hopes to be a key cog in helping the Clippers reach the NBA finals. Can Smith duplicate last year success in the post season? Me personally , I don’t think so. I feel Smith truly had the freedom he wanted in Houston to be successful and productive. Clippers coach Doc Rivers will ask Josh Smith to play discipline basketball, something I feel Josh can’t do. The temptation of a open three pointer is just to much to overcome for Josh Smith. Don’t expect the extra pass, therefore expect him on the bench when it matters most.
The Clippers have more questions than answers coming into the season. Doc Rivers must find away to incorporate toughness, unselfishness, and sacrifice in the Clippers D.N.A. if the hope to win a Championship. But the most important component to all of this..
The Clippers heart.