Contributed by guest blogger Frank Palmasani
There is a new sheriff in Los Angeles… Right?
Maybe, but not likely.
Yes, they have Chris Paul running the court in the Staples Center painted red, white and blue. And yes, they have the always entertaining and high-flying Blake Griffin. But are those two players along with a talented to decent entourage of role players and back-ups enough to force the purple and gold out of L.A.? Still, probably not.
Let’s face it; the Clippers are no stranger to losing seasons and being outshined. While the Clippers have boosted their skill, athleticism, and fan base with more explosive play due to their recent acquisitions, the Lakers are a well-seasoned dynasty. So they will have to have a lot to challenge the Lakers for the title of best in L.A.
So what exactly do the Clippers have that will pose a serious problem to Kobe and his new Laker team? They’ve lost a lot of upper hands in the course of one off season. The point guard position and the bench position had easily been the weakest aspect of the Los Angeles Lakers in past years. With the acquisition of Steve Nash, the offensive side of the point guard position has been satisfied. With players like Chris Duhon, Antawn Jamison, and the newly signed rookie Darius Johnson-Odom, they have plugged up a few of the holes that weakened their bench squad.
While Steve Nash is the more experienced between the two starting floor generals, Chris Paul is one of the best pure guards in the league. His passing and court vision is barely paralleled and his determination and tenacity for winning may be unmatchable. Still, that is not to say that the point guard position will be an immediate problem for the Lakers versus the Clippers.
The Lakers have added different pieces to chess board; their bench, with time, will make significant strides compared to previous years. Whether their bench can hold up against the powerhouse that is the Clippers 2nd squad is hard to say, though. They have players such as Lamar Odom, Chauncey Billups, Grant Hill, and more that tote experience and skill that, in more ways than one, trumps the bench squad of many of the top Western Conference teams.
And what of Blake Griffin? The young man has been posterizing players left and right since his first real game in the NBA (let’s not forget the two or three times he climbed Pau Gasol for a strong two points.) But can he do the same to the likes of Dwight Howard? As time goes by and as Dwight Howard urges forward to his return from injury, many must wonder whether Blake Griffin can own the paint and the sky with Dwight Howard lingering around. That will be a question only answered in time later into the season.
How a team can go from a joke in a city where winning is a habit to a favorite of many experts around the nation is one in a billion. Let’s not forget that in the last few or so years the Clippers have not even been above .500. However, the smart trades, signings, and a little luck and patience has put them on the map. As of now, however, the Lakers don’t have much to worry about. It is, of course, Kobe’s L.A. It will remain that way until Paul and his Clipper team can prove themselves time and time again. They are a problem for the Lakers and for the West in general; but still, they have a long way to go and a lot to prove.
About the author: Frank Palmasani is a HUGE Laker fan and an aspiring blogger. He is our new addition to the team and will be writing this year’s “The Competition” series. You’ll also get to see more of his insights on the game and the Lakers when he collaborates with us on some post-game and team analysis pieces throughout the new season. Welcome aboard, Frank!