Donald Sterling and the Los Angeles Clippers had one of the biggest victories this summer in stealing head coach Doc Rivers from Boston for a three-year, $21 million deal. Rivers is one of only four active NBA coaches with an NBA title, and has become widely recognized as one of the better execution coaches of this era. Re-signing point guard Chris Paul after becoming a free agent on July 1 was much easier with the hiring of Rivers just a week prior. Frankly, the Clippers don't make it this high on my list without Doc Rivers.
But I do like the personnel additions to a Clippers roster that finished around middle-of-the-pack of the league in three-point shooting last season at just under 36 percent. For an offense that relied strongly and abusively on two-man basketball and one-on-one break downs, their lack of outside shooting threats hindered their potential to space the floor and spread the offense (even though Caron Butler and Willie Green were two of the league's best corner three-point shooters last season -- Butler shot 47 percent, Green shot 48 percent). I think this was addressed in the three-team deal that sent Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler to Phoenix and a draft pick to Milwaukee in exchange for J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley, two notable floor spacers and system players. Compensating for the loss of Bledsoe as a bench spark is a capable Darren Collison, who started his NBA career as back-up to Chris Paul in New Orleans.
I believe the Clippers' fate is still somewhat bound by Blake Griffin's progression. Similar to what Chris Paul iterated to Ramona Shelburne of ESPN in August, I think this team needs Griffin to have a special year under his new coach for the Clippers to make that leap. Even though Doc Rivers expressed his desire to employ more of a motion offense, the two-man crux of Paul and Griffin is still the centerpiece of their offense. A key staff addition by Rivers was Alvin Gentry, who coordinated that same kind of motion offense for several years with the Phoenix Suns. Defensively, we'll what Rivers can inspire out of his individual project of DeAndre Jordan. Between the new coach, new shooters, and left over pieces from last season (Matt Barnes, Ryan Hollins) I feel this Clipper team has more balance for this season, some are saying enough to earn them a bid to the NBA Finals.
- Martin S. @marley_mcfly