Quite a few things have changed since the Clippers’ 2012-13 season came to a disappointing end after bowing-out in the first round of the playoffs to the Grizzlies back in May.
Gone are the likes of Lamar Odom, Eric Bledsoe, Caron Butler and Vinny del Negro, among others. The team was able to retain key free agents like Chris Paul, Matt Barnes and Ryan Hollins, as well.
Let’s go through and run down your new 2013-14 L.A. Clippers.
Head Coach Doc Rivers
The first round exit to Memphis clearly signaled the end of the Vinny del Negro era. There were reports of del Negro having lost touch with his team throughout last season, and it all came to a head after the disappointing finish.
Enter Doc Rivers, formerly of the Celtics, who led that team to the NBA title in 2008. Like with VDN in L.A., Rivers had essentially worn out his welcome in Boston, and that team was hurtling towards a complete teardown and subsequent rebuild. Rivers, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are all out of town.
Rivers brings credibility to the Clipper bench, which was lacking with del Negro at the helm. A major factor in Chris Paul’s decision to re-sign with the Clips was the hiring of Rivers, so his impact has already been massive for the franchise. Had the team not brought him in, who knows where Chris Paul would be today.
We’ll see what kind of impact Rivers has on the court, but on the surface, it seems like he’s a clear upgrade.
SG J.J. Redick
The Clippers’ shooting guard position was in flux a season ago, with Willie Green having started the majority of the season at the position. Chauncey Billups battled injuries throughout, and was never really able to get his groove back. Billups is in the twilight of his career, while Green should be a reserve.
So, they swung a trade. They acquired Redick from Milwaukee and Jared Dudley from Phoenix in exchange for Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler, and then signed Redick to a four-year deal worth $27 million. Redick gives the Clippers the deadeye shooter they sorely desired, and can also provide solid defense on the wing.
He should be a perfect fit in the backcourt alongside Paul, and he’ll benefit tremendously from Paul’s ability to draw defenders. He figures to play a bit of a Ray Allen-type role in Rivers’ offense. Allen would come off of multiple screens and help spread the floor. He’s a potentially huge addition.
SF Jared Dudley
Dudley is also a fantastic shooter from range, having converted over 40 percent of his three-point attempts in his career. He’s another decent defender on the wing, and figures to take Butler’s place in the Clips’ starting lineup.
His primary function will be to attempt to shut-down some of the league’s elite at his position, such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant, etc. L.A.’s perimeter defense was a massive Achilles’ heel a year ago, and Dudley’s presence should help in that area.
SF Antawn Jamison
Jamison’s best days are certainly well behind him at this point in his career, but he can probably still help a bit in a limited role.
He knocked down threes at a decent clip last season with the Lakers, knocking down over 36 percent from beyond-the-arc. He’s an okay rebounder, but his defense is absolutely atrocious. He’s a big body, though, so he can play a bit of the four behind Blake Griffin whenever the Clippers decide to go small.
PG Darren Collison
Big things have been expected of Collison in Indiana and Dallas in each of the last two seasons, and he’s been a disappointment. He showed flashes of brilliance during his rookie season in New Orleans, where he was the backup to Chris Paul.
Now back home in L.A., he’ll be back where he belongs, as a reserve. He’s a very talented offensive player with supreme quickness, and can also shoot pretty well from outside. The lesser workload figures to help Collison, and he won’t be expected to carry the team at all.
He won’t have to run the offense a whole lot, either, as the team is stocked with other capable ball-handlers, like Jamal Crawford, Redick and Paul. While he may not be an upgrade over the electric Bledsoe as Paul’s backup, he does have a chance to succeed if he’s allowed to play to his strengths.
Mullens played a career-high 26.9 minutes per game for Charlotte last season, and saw mixed results. His 31% shooting from three-point range is terrible, and he’s a pretty poor rebounder for a guy listed at 7’0″. He figures to see time as a frontcourt backup, but likely won’t play big minutes.
Bullock is yet another guy that can defend and knock down three-pointers. He was the Clips’ first-round draft choice out of North Carolina, and was impressive in summer league, averaging 18 points per game.
There’s no telling how often he’ll play considering the Clippers’ incredible depth, but he looks like he can be a contributor if he does find the court.
Expectations will be higher this season for the L.A. Clippers than they ever have been before, and with good reason. They’re as deep as any team in the league, and, barring injury and if certain players (ahem, Blake Griffin) continue to develop, they should find themselves near the top of the Western Conference once again in 2013-14.
About the Author
Written by Taylor Smith
Taylor Smith is a writer for the Los Angeles Clippers.