From here , it is all legit. No pretenders. No”if a couple of things go right” aspirants. No more”maybe, just maybe” hopefuls.
Real contenders only.
The Clippers, by virtue of being said after that debut, are one such competition.
Free of the shadow cast by Donald Sterling and imbued with all the frightening enthusiasm and impossibly deep pockets of new owner Steve Ballmer, the Clips will look to lock a top-three seed in the West again. This moment, tough, they’ll hope to advance to the Conference Finals for the first time in franchise history.
The majority of the responsibility falls on the familiar shoulders of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, two players who may easily lead the Clips to yet another No. 1 end in offensive efficiency. Together with Doc Rivers’ leadership and (hopefully) another step from DeAndre Jordan, L.A. is in great position for another deep playoff series.
There are concerns.
The wing positions are feeble behind J.J. Redick. Matt Barnes is supposed to start at the 3, and at age 34 that there ought to be real worries that his 4.2 percentage (yes, 4.2 percent) shooting from long range during the preseason is less a blip and more a sign that his offensive game has fallen off a cliff.
Spencer Hawes was the team’s big offseason get, and as valuable as he is as a passer and floor-spacer, he won’t frighten anybody on defense.
If the offense remains elite and Rivers can handle his frontcourt rotation wisely, the Clippers might be slightly better than they were a year ago. That may be enough for them to achieve heights they have never attained.

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