The Los Angeles Clippers have become a fixture in the Western Conference playoffs in recent years, but the amount of quality competition will make the playoffs a challenge for most teams. While the Clippers have established smaller goals, superstar forward Blake Griffin said the team’s main goal is to make the playoffs.
“Obviously, [the goal is] to win a championship; every team starts out at the beginning of the year saying, ‘We want to win a championship,’ but you’ve got to have a goal of getting to the playoffs first,” he explained. “The little goals of coming in, getting better every day in practice, all those small things. As a team, we want to make the playoffs.”
While the Clippers have become a playoff mainstay in the West, the losses of Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, and Jamal Crawford will need some adaptation. The Clippers replaced those players with some talented individuals, included heralded point guard Milos Teodosic, Patrick Beverley, Lou Williams, and Danilo Gallinari.
In total, head coach Doc Rivers will trot out nine new players in 2017-18.
Despite the loss of personnel, the Clippers are not worse–just different. Whereas the team required three or four individuals to do most of the heavy lifting, Rivers will need a team effort to accomplish the same feats. This will demand a little more experimentation on Rivers’ part.
It might not look perfect–especially right away–but the Clippers are certainly capable of finishing in the middle of the playoff pack. The Golden State Warriors, Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, and San Antonio Spurs will be favored to finish 1-4, but much of the rest is up for grabs.
The Clippers will find themselves jockeying for position with a group including the Denver Nuggets, New Orleans Pelicans, Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers, and Utah Jazz.