LA Clippers

Los Angeles Clippers season preview: It’s Blake’s show now

In the words of the philosopher Pootie Tang: I’ve got to say the nay-no, my brother.

Adding Euroleague superstar Teodosic, one of the world’s most gifted and audacious passers, ought to ensure the Clippers remain residents of Lob City in Paul’s absence. Gallinari, acquired in a three-team deal, could be the small forward the Clippers lacked throughout the entire CP3 era, a damn good shooter, scorer and initiator when he’s not injured and/or punching dudes in the face. Reed’s a solid rebounder, shot-blocker and energetic reserve, and adds depth behind All-Star DeAndre Jordan. There are real players here, ones who can shoot and pass and score and defend, and there looks to be more depth than any Clippers team has had since coach Doc Rivers came aboard.

As good and disruptive a one-on-one defender as CP3 is, a unit spearheaded by Jordan and Beverley should be at least as good as the one that finished 13th among 30 NBA teams in points allowed per possession last year. And over the past few years, when he’s been healthy and tasked with operating as a point forward in Paul’s stead, Griffin has often looked like about as close a thing to LeBron as there is outside Northeast Ohio — a combination of brute force, grace and vision capable of unlocking a more egalitarian version of L.A.’s attack. The continuity that had been the Clippers’ calling card went out the window in a major way, but amid the unknowns left in its wake is some cause for optimism.

There’s also, of course, cause for concern.

Patrick Beverley will bring his, um, aggressive brand of defense to Staples Center this season. (AP)

As understandable as re-upping Griffin was for a franchise desperate to retain relevance after losing Paul, Clipper fans would be within their rights to feel queasy about the risks inherent in committing a full-boat five-year, $173 million max deal to a player who hasn’t played more than 67 games in the last three years, and whose medical history includes a long list of leg injuries. Longstanding concerns about how two more interior-bound bigs like Griffin and Jordan would fare without Paul were a bit overblown last year — Blake-DJ-no CP3 lineups outscored opponents by a healthy 4.7 points per 100 possessions, according to NBAwowy.com’s lineup data — but replicating that success over a full season, with so much turnover and so many new pieces being integrated, feels like a big ask.

That’ll be especially true if Gallinari — 6-foot-10, with multiple injuries in his rearview mirror too, and likely better suited as a small-ball power forward than a full-time small forward — struggles to mesh with Griffin and Jordan on the defensive end. If the Clips struggle with their expected starting frontcourt, or when they go small with Blake at the five, who mans the three spot? Dekker, too, looks like more of a combo forward. Wesley Johnson, while serviceable, isn’t a viable big-minutes answer. Do the Clips downsize and slot Austin Rivers at the three, with some combination of Williams, Beverley and Teodosic in the backcourt? How do those lineups avoid hemorrhaging points?

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