By Niles Pender: The L.A. Clippers are currently on a 15 game winning streak. That’s a sentence that many sportswriters weren’t expecting to type during their careers. However, it has been a topsy-turvy season so far in the NBA. The Clippers currently hold a four game lead over the Golden State Warriors in the Pacific division. Are they good enough to be a contender for the NBA title this year?
The Bench Is A Deep One
The Clippers will benefit greatly from a deep bench. This will allow coach Vinny Del Negro to keep guys fresh without seeing a drop-off in talent on the court. Every member of the Clippers roster is averaging more than 10 minutes of playing time a game. Superstar players such as Blake Griffin and Chris Paul have seen about 30 minutes of playing time per game. When you can have those guys on the bench for a quarter of the game and still win, you’re a team that has the potential to make a deep run.
The Scoring Is Balanced As Well
Not only are guys playing an even amount of minutes, everyone is contributing when it comes to scoring points. Seven players on the team are averaging at least 8.9 points a game. This means that no one player is relied upon to score when on the court. Opposing defenses will have trouble coming up with a scheme that will shut down every single scoring option on a given possession.
A Mix Of Youth And Veteran Leadership Will Take L.A. Far
Players such as Lamar Odom and Chauncey Billups know what it takes to win a championship. This will help younger players such as Chris Paul and Blake Griffin reach that next level much faster than they would have without such veteran leadership. Winning in the playoffs takes more than just talent alone. It takes attention to detail, aggressive play on defense and executing on offense on every possession. The older guys will teach the younger players how to excel when the playoffs begin.
The Old Guard Is Slowly Falling
The L.A. Lakers have shown many weaknesses this year despite bringing in highly regarded players such as Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. While the Spurs are doing well this season, the Thunder proved last season that a young and fast team could make the Spurs look old and slow in a seven game series. The Clippers are a lot like that Thunder team from last season. A conference final between the Clippers and Thunder is not much of a stretch at this point. Other potential playoff opponents such as the Memphis Grizzlies and Golden State Warriors lack the big name players and playoff experience needed to pose a major threat in the west.
This may be the year that the Clippers finally establish themselves as a legitimate force in the NBA. It should be noted that this is the latest in the season that the Clippers have been in first place. In a season where old records are already starting to fall, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Clippers make a serious postseason run.