Los Angeles. Lob Angeles. The City of Angels. Lob City.
Call it what you want to call it, but make sure you call it the new home of Chris Paul.
The star point guard finally got his wish and was traded to L.A. However, he will not be wearing a Lakers uniform. Instead, the four-time all star will be running the show for the Clippers.
In a massive deal that sent Chris Kaman, Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, and a first round pick to the New Orleans Hornets, Paul was moved to the not so small market Los Angeles Clippers.
Since the trade was approved, Los Angeles has become the basketball capital of the world. The NBA universe has been buzzing non-stop about the Clippers. The team is now being compared to and, in some cases, regarded higher than their Staples Center building-mates.
There is no doubt that the Clippers are a team to be talked about this season. However, expectations are extremely high for a team that has never won a championship. The Clippers will compete for a playoff spot this season but the excitement should be tempered.
The much different Clippers won only 32 games last season, finishing fourth in the division and 13th in the conference. The franchise is well-known for being stuck in mediocrity. Their last of their few playoff appearances came in 2006. Winning is a habit and the team now has to get into that habit.
The acquisition of Paul creates a huge logjam at point guard. Mo Williams was picked up in a similar deal last year and already will have to take a back seat to both Paul and newly-acquired Chauncey Billups. Meanwhile, second-year guard Eric Bledsoe will see almost no time on the floor. He could become a valuable backup to CP3 once the team inevitably loses Williams and Billups but he will not be able to grow by sitting on the bench.
Meanwhile, Billups will be starting at shooting guard. Being a natural point, Billups is used to dominating the ball. Now, he will have to learn to play off of it with Paul taking the ball handling duties.
While the Clippers were not very good last season, they did experience the beginning of the Blake Griffin era. Griffin averaged 22.5 points and 12 rebounds per game in his first season, including a memorable All Star Weekend.
He took over the team and took the city by storm. Although they were still ultimately viewed as the second tier team in Los Angeles, Griffin as a star was already shining brightly. Now, he will have to get used to not being the best player on his team. He can obviously benefit from his new point guard but after the team’s preseason games, it looks like center DeAndre Jordan will be the mayor of Lob City.
The Clippers have nowhere to go but up. The long-suffering franchise wagered a big part of their future for a shot at becoming relevant immediately. It should pay dividends this season but franchise history proves enough to stop the Clippers-Lakers comparisons.