Not only did the Clippers make the playoffs last season for the first time in ages, but they are undoubtedly going to make another extended postseason appearance this season as well. That’s right – the Clippers are for real – and better yet, are going to remain that way for the foreseeable future. Here is my preview on the Clips for the upcoming 2006-07 season.
At the point guard position, the Clippers have two point guards that could start for almost any team in the league. Veteran, Sam Cassell is still an excellent player – and one who plays biggest in the big games. Last season, young gun, Shaun Livingston finally showed a major glimpse of what the future holds for him – and my goodness, is he going to be something else.
At shooting guard, all I can say is that the Clippers may have made one of their best acquisitions ever by signing veteran, Cuttino Mobley to a free agent contract last offseason. Mobley, a young man I played against on numerous occasions in our former Philadelphia neighborhood of Mt. Airy, has quietly solidified the Clippers’ shooting guard position. I won’t even get into the fact that his outside shooting has helped to discourage teams from double-teaming, all-star power forward, Elton Brand. Athletic, but inconsistent, Quentin Ross, will back Mobley up for stretches and will provide more athleticism.
At small forward, the Clippers should have improved themselves by adding veteran, Tim Thomas, who was miraculously rejuvenated in Phoenix last season playing alongside two-time MVP, Steve Nash. Thomas’ signing gives the Clippers the flexibility to bring scorer, Corey Maggette off the bench as a sixth-man with a starter’s mentality.
One word of caution – if Thomas reverts back to the underachieving form he displayed for the majority of his career before he hooked up with Nash, the Clippers will rue the day they signed him.
At power forward, not only do the Clippers have the MVP caliber Elton Brand, who is better than ever, but they also picked up another rugged veteran who can bang inside when they signed free agent, Aaron Williams. Score another for the Clippers with this positive transaction.
At center, Cris Kaman is a pretty good basketball player. No, he’s not really going to wow anyone out of their seat, but he is a competent player who gets the job done without a lot of fanfare. His 12 points and 9 rebounds per game are wonderful numbers – and I know at least 25 teams in the league he could start for. Backup Zeljko Rebraca will spell Kaman and provide several moments of comic relief.
The Clippers will be strong again this year. I expect at least a second round playoff appearance and possibly more. It could be a little more or a lot, depending on how well their new players mesh with their nucleus. I think somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 wins sounds just about right.