Just a couple of notes on this Christmas Eve. I couldn't get my act together to put together any kind of a formal Clipper post, but as I was looking around, I began to get a little anxious. It's weird, right? Most fans are happy when their team is picked to do well or be special, but I'm so unaccustomed to this positivity, I find it all a little unsettling. People are picking the Los Angeles Clippers to do well... really well this year. Some samples after the jump:
- Tuesday morning I was listening to Tony Kornheiser's radio show out of Washington DC. David Aldridge was on (he sits in a couple of days a week), and they had Bob Ryan on who covers the NBA for the Boston Globe. Kornheiser had seen highlights of the Clipper/Laker game the night before and couldn't shut up about the impending transition in Los Angeles. Ryan and Aldridge agreed with Kornheiser, that the Clippers have assembled a team of great potential. This is notable for several reasons, first, Kornheiser either ignores or bashes the Clippers unmercifully, he's repeatedly referred to the Clips as a "rump" organization. Second, these are all east coast media guys, they rarely have anything to say about western teams. The Clippers, for the first time ever are in the national spotlight.
- Darren Rove of CBS Sports tweeted this this morning: "Ticket broker said this to me today: For the 1st time ever, the Clippers are a hotter road ticket than the Celtics."
- As the season opens, more and more NBA writers and touts are picking how teams will finish. Bill Simmons picked the Clips to win 44 games (which would be something like 54 games in a full season). That's a lot of games for a team with three new starters and Vinny Del Negro as head coach.
- Out of 30 ESPN local writers, 17 picked the Clips to win the Pacific Division (the other 13 picked the Lakers).
- Marc Stein put the Clippers at number five on his power rankings. Number five. Ahead of the Lakers, the Spurs (who won 62 games last year with essentially the same team), the Grizzlies, and the Celtics.
Of course not everyone's on board the Clipper wagon... there are naysayers, doubters:
- Chris Sheridan picks the Clips thirteenth in his power rankings. He also bashed the Clips after the Chris Paul trade (here) declaring both teams the lesser for the trade. I'm not sure how that works... BOTH teams got worse? It's Sheridan, who's energetic but always seems more interested in self-promotion than anything particularly insightful or even coherent.
- Nothing was stranger than Jon Barry interviewing Chris Paul and Blake Griffin about "expectations". Jon Barry? He's been the most vocal Clipper basher on television the last couple of years. The interview is dull and perfunctory but is Jon Barry getting on the bus? That would really be the ultimate.
It might sound strange, I find myself relieved when the "experts" pick against the Clippers. If only because it gives the team someone to prove wrong.