THE 1ST PLACE L.A. CLIPPERS?
“If I’m the GM, I’m not trading Marko Jaric for Sam Cassell. No way.” That’s Sam Cassell on his trade to the Clippers. But it’s working for him. After last year, it looked like he was just an aged player whose skills were in rapid decline. But so far this season, his numbers are up. Points, assists and rebounds are all up at least 2-3 per game. He’s also missed only 1 free throw, shooting 96% from the ine. The Clippers are 6-2 and are tied for the best record in the West. It is the best start ever for the franchise.
They’re not just beating the bottom of the league either. They pounded the Bucks last 109-85, holding Michael Redd to only 15. They opened the season with a road win at Seattle. In between they have beaten Atlanta, Minnesota in OT, and Atlanta and Washington on the road. Sure Atlanta isn’t good, but a road win is a road win. And the Clippers are already 3-2 on the road. They have yet to lose at home.
Elton Brand has taken it up a notch. He has lead the team in scoring in 5 of the 8 games, rebounding in 4 and even led them in assists one game. He’s shooting 59% and is averaging 23.3/9.5 and 2.25 blocks per game. The crazy thing is he is only 26 years old. 26! It’s likely he will finish the year in the top 10 in all those categories.
Corey Maggette, also only 26, is playing great too. He’s averaging almost 20 a game and you get the feeling that he is one of those players that other guys don’t want to play against.
Those 3 players, plus solid contributors like Mobley, Kaman, Wilcox, Daniel Ewing and Quinton Ross have made the Clips one of the younger and more exciting teams in the league. And while on paper it looks as if they would be deficient defensively, they are 6th in the league in FG% allowed. They are also 8th in the league in total points. Surprisingly they are near the bottom of the league in 3pt. shooting. Also surprising to me was that they are currently 6th overall in rebounding.
They are not going to beat the Spurs this year. But 50 wins doesn’t seem out of the question. Maybe they have finally turned the corner as a franchise.