Friday , Oct , 20 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Los Angeles Clippers 2006-07 Season Preview

(Sports Network) – It’s true, the Los Angeles Clippers are a solid basketball
team that should be a factor in the Western Conference. Last season, the
Clippers finished 47-35 and qualified for the playoffs for the first time
since the 1996-97 campaign.

The Clippers defeated the Denver Nuggets in five games in the opening round of
the playoffs, but were eliminated by the Phoenix Suns in seven contests during
the conference semifinals.

All-Star Forward Elton Brand had his best season, as he played in his second
NBA All-Star Game and ended up leading the Clippers in scoring (24.7 ppg)
and rebounding (10.0 rpg). The Duke product has become the team leader and is
one of the best power forwards in the league.

Corey Maggette was second on the Clippers in scoring (17.8 ppg), but missed 50
games because of injury. Veteran point guard Sam Cassell, who re-signed with
the team during the offseason, averaged 17.2 points in 78 games last
season, while Cuttino Mobley contributed 14.8 points per game in his
first season with the Clippers and 21-year-old Shaun Livingston is learning
from Cassell so he will be ready when his time arrives to be the man at the
point.

Twenty-four-year-old center Chris Kaman has continued to develop into an
effective presence in the middle. He posted career-highs in points (11.9 ppg)
and rebounds (9.6 rpg) in 78 contests. Kaman gives the Clippers an excellent
center who should be productive for many years.

Head coach Mike Dunleavy will be on the Clippers’ bench for his fourth year.
He has done a fantastic job getting his squad to buy into his system. Dunleavy
has developed a winning formula and is the right coach for a club with a mix
of veterans and youngsters.

During the offseason, the Clippers signed free agent forwards Tim Thomas and
Aaron Williams. They did lose Vladimir Radmanovic, who was acquired by the
Clippers from Seattle in a trade for forward Chris Wilcox during last season.
The 6-10 Radmanovic inked a deal with the Lakers.

Last season was a huge success for the Clippers, who were one win away from
advancing to the conference finals for the first time in franchise history.
The Clippers are the real deal!

BACKCOURT

Cassell, who turns 37 on November 18th, and Mobley turned out be great
pickups for the Clippers during the summer of 2005. They were even
more valuable in the postseason because of their experience. Both Mobley and
Cassell are clutch players and have led by example while playing for the
Clippers.

The 6-7 Livingston, who is entering his third season in the league, is still
learning the NBA game. He averaged 5.8 points and 4.5 assists in 61 games,
including 14 starts. Livingston is the future, but with Cassell still in the
fold it allows the young guard to mature as a player.

Maggette will play small forward and shooting guard. He is explosive in the
open court and is very effective driving to the hoop. The 6-6 Maggette is a
scorer and excels in a fast-paced tempo.

Quinton Ross is a solid defender, while Daniel Ewing, who played 66 games
during his rookie campaign give the Clippers some decent depth in the
backcourt. Ross will play behind Mobley and Ewing will work as the third point
guard.

FRONTCOURT

The Clippers have a very solid frontcourt. Brand is one of the best power
forwards in the NBA, while Kaman is on his way to becoming a top center and
Maggette is a slasher and knows how to score. Brand’s low-post scoring,
Kaman’s size and ability around the hoop and Maggette’s athleticism complement
each other very well.

Thomas played 29 games for Chicago and Phoenix last season, and averaged 10.3
points and 4.5 rebounds, The 6-10 Thomas was a monster in the postseason for
the Suns, as he registered 15.1 points per game in 20 contests and hit big
baskets when the game was on the line. He can knock down the outside jumper
and has a ton of talent, however his dedication for playing the game has been
questioned in the past. If the 29-year-old Thomas can continue where he left
off in the postseason, the Clippers will be thrilled to have him on the squad.

OUTLOOK

Equaling their win total of a year ago is something the Clippers should be
able to achieve. The 27-year-old Brand is the cornerstone of the franchise and
will try and improve his excellent 2005-06 campaign, while Kaman will
continue to get better and Cassell, Livingston, Maggette, Mobley and Thomas
will play big roles in the Clippers’ success.

The Clippers have finally arrived and will qualify for the postseason for the
second straight year. The last time they made the playoffs two straight years
was in 1991-92 and 1992-93, when Larry Brown was the head coach.

LAC