By Rodin Batcheller
Los Angeles, a city with two NBA teams, the Clippers and the Lakers, combine for a total of 11 NBA championships. All 11 of those championships belonging to the Lakers who have won one as recently as 2010. Now, the tables have turned and the Clippers are now the better team in LA. Last season, the Clippers had 36 more wins than the Lakers, who had only 17 wins in a NBA season.
Although being knocked out of the playoffs in the first round against the Portland Trail Blazers last season, the Clippers are keeping virtually the same roster. The Clippers kept their stars Jamal Crawford, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, Chris Paul, Paul Pierce, and JJ Redick, from last season and signed free agents Brandon Bass, Raymond Felton, and Marreese Speights.
The Clippers also had three picks in the NBA draft as well, picking Brice Johnson, David Micheneau, and Diamond Stone. The Clippers should end up where they were last season, but advance further into the playoffs.
The head coach of the Clippers, Doc Rivers, has big hopes for Deandre Jordan, their returning center, in terms of self-improvement this season.
“He sees himself now as a star, as good as he is, I don’t think he’s ever seen himself as one.” stated Rivers to the Boston Globe. “Now he knows how good he is […] and I think [Deandre] now knows what winning looks like.”
Last season, the Lakers were in full Kobe Bryant retirement mode focusing on showcasing the legend’s last season. Now, a young, enthusiastic core is eagerly waiting to fill his shoes with a slightly different roster.
The Lakers still have stars Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr, Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell, Louis Williams and Nick Young. Their two draft picks from the NBA draft included Brandon Ingram and Ivan Zubac.
The Lakers should improve their record by at least 15 games, if the young core learns to play together well, and quickly.
“We’ve started building relationships with our players. I think that’s a big key to coaching,” stated Lakers new head coach Luke Walton. “We’ve made it a fun and enjoyable place for them to come to work out, train and get better.”