It’s not a secret that the Los Angeles Clippers are the best team in California. Sure – the Lakers may have the best looking roster – but we know that that experiment hasn’t really worked out all that well. As such, it’s safe to assume that if anyone comes out of that state – it’ll be the Clips.
We’ll even go as far as to state that they’ll be the team that will be matched up with the winner of the Eastern Conference, which will more than likely be against the Heat. Yes, they’ll even beat out the Western representative of last year – the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Here are the reasons why we think that this is the case.
Point guard play is crucially important in the league. You need someone running the show. Teams without good point guard play typically don’t make deep runs into the playoffs. Sure, the Heat get by without an elite point guard because they have Lebron James. It’s said that he can play any spot on the floor. So, what about Russell Westbrook? Is he elite?
Russell Westbrook is most definitely one of the most athletically-gifted players in the NBA. Unfortunately, he has some faults. He shoots the ball way too much. While he has won some games for OKC, he has also shot them out of games. This was considered a fault for the team last year, specifically in the NBA Finals. Seriously, he took the ball out of the league’s elite scorer in Kevin Durant.
Chris Paul – on the other hand – is a facilitator first. Sure, he’s known for taking over games, but he also defers to his teammates at a high clip. His skill set is similar to Westbrook’s, but he doesn’t take it upon himself constantly to shoot. He genuinely creates for others. That’s what the best point guard in the league is supposed to do.
Identity is a big thing here. While we didn’t necessarily want to touch on things that can be considered “intangibles” or anything like that, it’s worth talking about here. We all know that the Thunder are sorely missing the services of James Harden. Kevin Martin was a pretty good replacement, but he’s not Harden. While it may not reflect on the box scores and wins, it still has hampered them. They don’t really have someone who can handle the ball or create their own shots like Harden could.
They can win games due to what the duo of Westbrook and Durant can do, but who consistently steps up when these two don’t?
On the other hand, the Clippers have solidified themselves in terms of identity. They know exactly who they are. They have the requisite ball handlers when CP3 needs a break. Billups has been getting his minutes increased and Bledsoe can step up when needed, as well. Oh, they also have Deandre Jordan. He leads the team in rebounds, as opposed to Westbrook who does the same for OKC. If your point guard is leading the team in rebounds, you simply have an identity crisis.
DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin will not allow Westbrook to crash the boards at the clip that he has been, even though OKC is one of the best rebounding teams in the league.
You have to get everyone involved on the court. Teams win games because they can set up plays and get the ball to the open guy. That’s fundamental basketball. The Spurs have won consistently because of this very reason. The Los Angeles Clippers – while not as impressive as the Spurs in this – can really move the ball around for great shots. OKC does not. In fact, they’re one of the worst in assists per game. LAC is in the top five. If Durant and Westbrook are having tough days, they’ll lose. Fortunately for them, it rarely happens.
There are a multitude of reasons why a person could see that the LAC are capable of winning a spot to play the Spurs. They may not have the firepower as OKC, they’re definitely more of a complete team. Let’s not forget that they have arguably the best sixth man off the bench in Jamal Crawford.
About the Author
Lamar Hull is a former NCAA basketball player who currently works for Direct2TV as a Senior Editor. Lamar enjoys writing about sports and entertainment.You can also follow Lamar at inspirationalbasketball.com
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