Injuries derailed the Clippers 2015-16 campaign, as Blake Griffin missed half the season while also leaving the First Round early, joined by Chris Paul. The summer didn't go as some expected, as the squad remains essentially the same with the additions of Brice Johnson, Diamond Stone, Raymond Felton, Brandon Bass, Alan Anderson and Marresse Speights and the losses of Cole Aldrich, Pablo Prigioni, CJ Wilcox, Branden Dawsen and Jeff Green.
Doc Rivers still has championship aspirations with his hand built squad, though the road will continue to be an uphill climb, assuming Kevin Durant doesn't destroy the Golden State Warriors chemistry. Here are four bold predictions on the Clippers 2016 campaign. 1] Luc Richard MBah A Moute Finishes 3rd In Defensive Player of The Year voting.
It took a bit for MBah A Moute to cement the starting spot last season, but the Cameroonian international stepped up to the challenge and won the small forward slot for the Clippers and made a world's difference. While he doesn't provide much offensive output, MBah A Moute was a top flight defender and even topped Kawhi Leonard and Paul George according to some defensive stats.
For the 2016-17 campaign, I can see MBah A Moute getting extended playing time after averaging just 17 minutes, I can see Prince Luc gaining an extra 8 minutes or so and getting some more offensive production. His defense will be the key to allow Paul, JJ Redick and Griffin to focus on the offensive output.
2] Chris Paul misses 6 weeks.
Injuries have always been a thorn on the Clippers side, namely in the playoffs and during the previous season. This time around, it'll be the star point guard who goes down early and missing a month and a half of action. Austin Rivers shows his worth during this time, while Blake Griffin averages crazy numbers during this stretch, something around 27/9/8.
3] Austin Rivers receives Most Improved consideration.
Yes, the nepotism will finally pay off in Los Angeles, as Austin Rivers will earn consideration for the MIP slot, ultimately finishing in third. Injury to Paul will really help Rivers' gain the stats needed to garner interest, however, his defensive improvement will be day and night. Austin has shown heart with the Clippers along with a steady incline in performance, which one hopes will continue considering his albatross of a contract.
4] Clippers Reach the Western Finals.
Before falling to the Duncan-less San Antonio Spurs in a grueling seven game series, just after picking apart the super Warriors in six. Griffin and Paul finally get over the hump, but it isn't enough as they need to look forward to another busy summer of bargain bin hunting to finalize the roster.