Showtime is back in L.A., but it’s not with the Lakers, it’s with their little sister; the JV team of L.A. – the L.A. Clippers. The Los Angeles Clippers, not the Lakers, are the toast of the town.
Since the Clippers acquired Chris Paul in the 2011 off-season, they are doing something they have not done in their franchise history – win games. Since moving to L.A. in 1984, the Clippers have only had four winning seasons, reaching the postseason only five times in a 29-year span. The Clippers have been in the NBA for many years and finally out of nowhere experience success as a franchise.
Last summer, the Clippers knew they needed more scoring from their bench, so they targeted Jamal Crawford, who received calls from coach Vinny Del Negro, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Chauncey Billups and DeAndre Jordan.
When asked about the recruitment of Crawford, Del Negro revealed: “We thought he could come in and take pressure off of Chris (Paul) and the team. He can score the ball. He’s done that his whole career.”
Crawford has put together an unique career. He is one of four players who have scored 50 points with three different teams. He is the NBA’s career leader in four-point plays, he won the Sixth Man Award, and he is the 2000 draft’s career leading scorer. At 32, Crawford is having the most complete season of his career.
As the Clippers’ sixth man, he is averaging 16.3 points a game and playing so well that Del Negro and others believed he should have been named to the Western Conference All-Star team.
When asked about Crawford not making the All-Star team, Coach Del Negro stated: “I’m a little biased, but Jamal has been fantastic for us. He did not make the All-Star team, but he knows what he means to the staff, the team, and me. I was just hoping he would get the nod this year.”
With the ankle-breaking exploits of Crawford, combined with the aerial assault of Griffin and Jordan, combined with the veteran leadership of Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill, the Clippers are in a position to challenge the OKC Thunder as kings of the west.
When asked about the effect he is having on the team and the city, Crawford replied: “When you factor in the winning part of it and the effect I’m having with this team, this is the most fun I’ve had since I played at Rainier Beach. Obviously, L.A. is a Lakers town. The Lakers have all the history but it is rather cool for our fans, which have been there for the tough times, to be able to stick their chests out now and say, ‘The Clippers are playing some good basketball as well.”
Crawford’s lack of post-season basketball, just 23 career playoff games, is the only knock against him. Nevertheless, Crawford is making the league take notice. Crawford’s 16.3 points per game is ninth best of his 13-year career. However, he has never fit better with a collection of players than he does with the Clippers, who are allowing him to play some of the most efficient basketball of his career.
“This is the best team I’ve ever been on and it’s made me a better player,” Crawford said. “I’m right in the middle of a deep, talented group of guys who know what they’re doing.”
Crawford has become one of the off-season’s best signings. He provides the Clippers with scoring and depth.
For the first time in a long time, the leagues are taking the Clippers seriously, and now considered one of the league’s most exciting and complete teams.