Lakers vs Clippers
Lakers disappointed last season although they were considered as one of the big favorites for the NBA title. At no point they convinced that they could go so high, although they had been reinforced with Dwight Howard and Steve Nash. They started with four defeats in five games, they fired Mike Brown, hired Mike D'Antoni, and finally finished with the 7th position in West.
Now a more difficult season than the last one awaits them, as the departure of Dwight Howard, who went to Houston, clearly creates a big gap in the center position. Chris Kaman who came from Dallas had 10.5 points and 5.6 rebounds per game last season and will probably be able to work better with Pau Gasol, but in no case has the natural skills of Howard.
A big problem is also created to the position of small forward after Metta World Peace departure, who remains one of the best defenders in the NBA and is a good shooter, definitely a strong personality who take difficult decisions at critical points in the game.
Another negative fact for Lakers is that three of their best players, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol, are well over 30 years of age and they are coming from a season with injuries. Bryant will probably accelerate his return from a serious achilles injury and it does not seem to be a wise choice. Furthermore, none of the players Lakers had last year over 11 points and 6 rebounds per game, while defensive they will be quite vulnerable, after the departures of World Peace and Howard.
Last season the Clippers finished the regular season with four consecutive defeats, but nine consecutive wins had previously helped them to finish in fourth place in the Western Conference. They had the same performance with the fifth Memphis Grizzlies (56-26), but having won the first place in the Pacific Division they got the home advantage in the first round of the playoffs, where they were unable to exploit their advantage and were excluded after six games.
The Clippers were quite active in the summer transfer market and the best addition is Doc Rivers on the bench. A really experienced coach who was one of the main reasons that Chris Paul has decided to sign a new contract. They have further strengthened their roster with the acquisition of JJ Redick and Darren Collison. Redick has venomous shot while Collison is a reliable backup for the position of point guard. Jamal Crawford and the newcomer from Phoenix Jared Dudley, are two other very quality options too. On the frontline the duo of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan is explosive and is further enhanced with the acquisition of Byron Mullens who came from Charlotte.
In conclusion, the Clippers this year have the best roster of all time with a mixture of talented, strong and experienced players. Although this game is a derby, Lakers will be without Kobe Bryant while Clippers were strengthened even more and have all the quality to win this one easy.