The Los Angeles Clippers are poised and ready to challenge for the NBA Championship in 2016.
After a tumultuous free agent signing period, and an emoji war for the ages, the Clippers resigned center DeAndre Jordan and added new players to solidify their weak bench.
Resigning Jordan was the key. After initially agreeing to sign with the Dallas Mavericks, Jordan had a change of heart and decided to resign with the Clippers, much to the dismay of Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban.
Jordan is a defensive force, one of the best shot blockers and rebounders in the NBA. Chris Paul may be the leader on offense, but Jordan is the anchor of their defense. Shooting guard JJ Redick gave the Clippers an ‘F’ grade in free agency when it appeared that Jordan would leave, but changed his grade to A+ when Jordan resigned.
General Manager Doc Rivers wasn’t done. He addressed the glaring need at small forward by signing 10 time All Star Paul Pierce as a free agent and by trading for Lance Stephenson, a strong wing defender who can play small forward, shooting guard, and even point guard. He also added versatile but erratic small forward Wesley Johnson who played for the Lakers last year.
Rivers strengthened the front line by adding Josh Smith to back up Blake Griffin, and Cole Aldritch to back up Jordan. Both are major upgrades from last year when the Clippers only went eight deep during the playoffs, and Griffin was forced to play way too many minutes due to the lack of a competent backup on the bench. The Clippers also resigned combo guard Austin Rivers, and added a seasoned savvy point guard in Pablo Prigioni. Now that GM Rivers has built a solid team, can Coach Rivers mold the new and old players into a team that can finally reach the NBA Finals through the gauntlet that is the Western Conference playoffs?