Last year's Los Angeles Clippers couldn't keep up with the NBA odds. They had too many missing pieces, but after a whirlwind offseason, the Clippers are loaded for bear.
It's been a dreadful offseason for the Los Angeles Clippers. Have you seen those new uniforms? They're horrible. I Googled “Clippers new uniforms garbage” and got just under 250,000 hits. In the wise words of Flavor Flav, garbage, nothing but garbage, straight-up garbage.
In lesser news, the Clippers may have turned themselves into the best team in the NBA. Not only did they convince DeAndre Jordan (21.0 PER, +4.1 BPM) to leave the Dallas Mavericks at the altar, the Clips also signed a boatload of players to come join him. Have they covered all their bases for the upcoming season? If so, Los Angeles will be a strong NBA pick at between +900 and +1200 on the NBA futures market.
Last year saw the Clippers (56-26 SU, 37-44-1 ATS) finish below .500 against the spread for the first time since the league stepped in and blocked Chris Paul (26.0 SU, +7.5 BPM) from being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. If there was one problem with this team, it was a maddening lack of bench strength, bad enough that players like Austin Rivers (10.6 PER, –2.4 BPM) were being counted on to shoulder the burden. Did we mention that Rivers is the son of the head coach, Doc Rivers? I think we did.
I See Pablo, I See Lance
Rivers showed enough glimpses of talent to get another chance at developing, but this year, the Clippers won't have to thrust greatness upon him. Look at the list of players they've added for the 2015-16 campaign:
You could put all five of those players on the court at the same time and run circles around most team's second units. There's an obvious concern with Stephenson, who's coming off a horrible year with the Charlotte Hornets, but two years ago, “Born Ready” posted a respectable 14.7 PER with a +2.3 BPM for the Indiana Pacers. We'll see how Stephenson does this year in a lower-pressure situation surrounded by better talent.
Of course, you have to give up something to get something, and the Clippers gave up Matt Barnes (11.3 PER, +1.6 BPM) and Spencer Hawes (9.8 PER, –1.9 BPM) to acquire Stephenson. But when all was said and done, according to ESPN stat guru Bradford Doolittle, L.A. had added 14.7 WARP (Wins Above Replacement Player) to their roster this offseason. That was easily the biggest upgrade in the league, light-years ahead of Charlotte at 8.5 WARP.
Is there anything still missing? Sixth-man Jamal Crawford (16.6 PER, –1.0 BPM) reportedly wants out of town, but that doesn't seem like much of a problem anymore. And we haven't even talked about Wesley Johnson (11.1 PER, –1.5 BPM), who defected from the Lakers last month. Even if they let Crawford go for nothing, the Clippers will have an elite starting five with depth at every position. Now it's up to Doc Rivers to put some ubuntu into it.