To add to the already high expectations on the Clippers this year, power rankings are coming out. The season starts tomorrow, so these are the last set of pre-season power rankings while at the same time being the first post-pre-season rankings (meaning that they have already taken the whole preseason into account). I'm excited to see the first of 82 tomorrow night and see if the Clippers can live up to these lofty expectations.
Jimmy Spencer, Fox Sports- #5
The Clippers roster was just slightly upgraded after last year's first-round exit. Doc Rivers is an improvement on the sidelines, but too much will still fall on Chris Paul to take over games as a scorer and that's not where he's at his best. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan will each need to take their game to the next level.
Slightly improved might be an understatement, but #5 isn't a bad spot for the Clippers. Spencer has them behind the Heat, Pacers, Spurs, and Thunder.
Marc Spears, Y! Sports- #5
New Clippers president and coach Doc Rivers made a good decision to cover the Lakers' banners during home games. Rivers wants the Clippers to have their own strong identity.
Spears doesn't provide a ton of justification, but agrees with Spencer on #5. His top four are the Heat, Spurs, Pacers, and Bulls.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com- #4
The idea of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan being a strong defensive frontcourt is still the Clippers' biggest question going into the season. But this team, with its pick-and-roll game and perimeter shooters, has the ability to rank first in offensive efficiency if it spaces the floor and moves the ball. The Clips had the second-highest assist rate (assisting on 68 percent of their field goals) in the preseason.
Good justification and a slight bump for the Clippers. Schuhmann puts Miami, San Anotonio, and Indiana ahead of them.
Jason Patt, SBNation NBA- #2
The Clippers went and got themselves a real head coach, nabbing Doc Rivers from the Boston Celtics to replace Vinny Del Negro. But not only did the Clippers improve on the sideline, they improved on the court as well. Los Angeles made it a point to improve their shooting, acquiring J.J. Redick, Jared Dudley and Antawn Jamison this offseason. With those kinds of shooters surrounding Chris Paul, the Clippers' offense will be as deadly as ever.
Patt moves the Clippers all the way up to #2 behind the Heat, citing their offense and coaching as the reason while ignoring the lack of frontcourt depth and potential defensive issues.
Marc Stein, ESPN NBA- #2
I know all about their warts. Fears that Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan can't be playoff difference-makers, even under Doc Rivers, remain rampant. Yet the Clippers are my pick to win the West, largely because of what the new coach and those new shooters will do for CP3 and Blake.
Stein, whose power rankings are normally my go-to (no that I really care about power rankings, but his are the only ones that I read), brings it all together here. He acknowledges some issues but says the Clippers' offensive prowess will be enough to bring them a trip to the Finals. Of course, we're a long, long time away from that.
This is the highest ranking Stein has ever given the Clippers to start a season, followed by their #5 ranking on opening day last season. Of course, the Clippers' amazing winter streak last season brought them the #1 ranking for three weeks in a row from weeks 8-10. They were also ranked #2 for weeks 7, 11, and 12 last season. Their only other crack at the top 2 was in 2007, when they broke into it in week 2.