Clippers basketball is finally here, and there are few fans that are looking forward to this season more than the Clipper faithful. By faithful, I'm referring to those of us, who sat through years of Donald Tokowitz Sterling and his bottom line mindset. Sat through years of Elgin Baylor drafting third round players in the lottery. Went from high expectations to the bottom of the ocean with the breakup of the Young Gunz for a cancer in Andre Miller.
Things sure have changed, and it started with the lottery victory leading to the selection of Blake Griffin. Followed with the acquisiton of Chris Paul from New Orleans and the hiring of Doc Rivers, things were looking to remain in a steady incline.
Then, came the Sterling fiasco, and the Clippers were purchased by Steve Ballmer, the high energy, former C.E.O. of Microsoft. The richest owner in all professional sports in the United States, Ballmer's commitment to winning is apparent, as he has wanted a team for years. Nothing could seem better in Clipper-land, and the anticipation for the 2014-15 campaign continued to grow, and gets to start tonight as they host the Golden State Warriors, a game that will be televised on NBA TV and Fox Sports Prime Ticket.
Here are five things to look towards for the debut game of the new campaign, even if it is a pre-season game that tips off at 7:30 PM Pacific Time.
1] Blake Griffin and his extended jumper. Speculation has it, during the Clippers training camp sessions, Griffin was consistently knocking down jumpers from 18 to 22 feet without much of an issue. If he can fully add that to his repertoire, the Clippers chances for their first NBA title will greatly increase.
2] Spencer Hawes showcasing his all around game. Yes, it is the debut game, and not everything will be shown right off the bat, but Rivers and reporters have made it clear that Hawes is more than just a stretch big. While his rebounding and defense may leave a lot to be desired, the big man is said to have a fluid passing game.
3] Three giants sharing the court? Rivers hinted during training camp, that in certain match-ups, he will throw out a Griffin, Hawes, DeAndre Jordan front court. That is three big guys up front, at the same time. Griffin's athleticism will allow him to stick with most threes, while Hawes' range will spread the court, not allowing for any congestion to slow down Blake.
4] Big Baby lost weight. Despite the joke made by Rivers, Big Baby has slimmed down a good amount, and moves more fluid than he has in prior seasons. If so, he could earn the bulk of playing time as the teams third big man, especially if Hawes pulls anything remotely close to a Mullens impression. Solid jumper, decent passer and team defender, it is nothing but good news.
5] Steve Kerr will start the norm five for the Warriors in Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Lee and Bogut. Question remains, will Rivers counter with the Clippers norm five, or will he rotate players around. If he does keep with the typical unit, have to wonder if any choppiness will occur.