If one thing can be said of the new look Los Angeles Clippers, led by Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, is that they are going to be exciting to watch, probably more than any other team in the NBA. Their second preseason win over the Los Angeles Lakers (108-103) was another example of fun to watch they can be.
Again, this is a preseason basketball. Not a lot of defense to be seen besides DeAndre Jordan blocked shots which have to do with his athletic abilities more than actual team chemistry or clever defensive schemes. Kobe Bryant didn’t even play for the Los Angeles Lakers, who are easily dissed as has beens at this point. Wrong, to a certain degree.
Back to the Clippers, and to why they look so good. Well, fast tempo games that are mostly transition offense and fast breaks tend to favor teams like the Clippers, who may not be yet well rehearsed and used to each other, but have a lot of offensive quality to make up for that. Having Blake Griffin on the team just makes it easier for point guard who love throwing the ball up in the air.
Griffin finished with 30 points and more than a few highlight reel dunks and moves. In fact, it was a highlight reel kind of game. Andrew Bynum for the Lakers, while Griffin, Paul and Jordan for the Clippers. The lack of anything resembling solid defense on both teams just helped the Clippers keep their early season advantage.
They play fast, extremely fast basketball. Few teams can get up and down the court so quickly, and if their enthusiasm to finish moves with alley oops and dunks is translated into quick return to defense after a miss or a turnover, the Clippers are going to be more than just a showboating high flying bunch. Caron Butler, Chauncey Billups, Mo Williams and Randy Foye make quite effective sidekicks when the double team comes your way.
But it’s more than a battle for Los Angeles supremacy. The Clippers, like the Miami Heat last season, create a huge preseason buzz in a big market that the NBA needed more than ever before due to the lockout of the past few months. I don’t know if David Stern had that in mind when he approved the Hornets-Clippers deal, I’m guessing not, and it had more to with some sort of making a point against the rich teams, but it worked for him.
Chris Paul, despite leaving the team he’s been playing for all his career didn’t get no LeBron James treatment, even though he asked for a trade, asked to leave. LeBron James got a raw deal from the media, partially at his own fault. But we digress.
Chris Paul doesn’t just give Blake Griffin an elite point guard to draw attention and feed him alley oops only he can reach. It’s a statement, hopefully lasting more than the one season left on Paul’s contract. The Clippers are the new IT thing in the NBA, and their preseason form gives us more than a few reasons to tune in to the 2011-2012 NBA season.