Coming off a disappointing 10th place finish in 2017, the Los Angeles Clippers are sitting at first place in the West. How did the Clippers climb their way to the top?
First and foremost, the Clippers are well above .500 this year without the presence of an all-star caliber player. After the departures of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, the Clippers had to start from the ground up. With no high expectations, they have shocked the league with great success early on this season.
Let’s begin with Tobias Harris, the versatile forward who is averaging 21.4 points and 8.8 assists game. The dominant forward is already making an all-star case early in the season. Avery Bradley has made his way back on the court after suffering an ankle injury where he missed 6 games. The guard has established himself as one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. The two-time 6th man of the year, Lou Williams, has brought his veteran experience to the team. Williams is one of the more consistent guards in the league averaging 18 points and 4.3 assists.
Starting at the center position is Marcia Gortat, who had established a positive reputation with the Wizards since 2013. Standing at 6’11, Gortat brings solidarity to the defense alongside Bradley. At the small forward position, Danilo Gallinari has been an offensive machine so far this year averaging 19.1 points and 6.2 rebounds. The Clippers ability to share the basketball could be one reason to explain their success, however coach Doc Rivers needs to be credited as well.
After 20 seasons as a head coach, Doc Rivers is adding to his successful resumé. Spending 9 years in Boston, Rivers was brought to Los Angeles in 2013. The first 4 years of being head coach was nothing but greatness. From 2013-2016, the Clippers were able to be above .600, but in 2017 they were absent from the playoffs. Just one year ago, the Clippers were searching for answers, but Rivers has maintained his humble personality and has created chemistry.
Yes it is early to make predictions, however the season is wide open for the Clippers. The team will continuously be challenged by the elite teams in the Western Conference such as the Warriors and Thunder. If the Clippers have this same cohesion all season, they could run deep in the playoffs.
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