The Memphis Grizzlies aren’t the only team that ended an era this past offseason.
The old arch-rival of the Grizzlies, the L.A. Clippers, also moved on from a very successful run of basketball. “Lob City” died with the trade of Chris Paul, but what remains appears to still be a fairly good basketball team.
To preview this afternoon’s matinee at Staples Center, I chatted with Clips Nation’s Editor-in-Chief Lucas Hann about the current state of the Clippers and whether or not this is even still a rivalry. Follow Lucas on Twitter here.
1. Chris Paul left L.A. this past offseason via trade. How have the pieces that the Clippers got in return from the Rockets fared early this season?
HANN: The Clippers, all things considered, got a pretty nice package in return for Chris Paul. So far, though, only Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams have gotten regular minutes, while Montrezl Harrell and Sam Dekker have had a harder time breaking into the rotation. Both Beverley and Williams have been terrific--Pat is the rare defensive leader who lives up to his reputation nightly, and Lou has taken his backup point guard duties in stride and been hyper effective offensively off of the bench.
2. Many Grizzlies fans have lusted after Danilo Gallinari's skill set for years. Now that he is a Clipper, how has he impacted the team so far?
HANN: Gallo has had a rough go of it early in the season, and he hasn't shot the ball well so far. Still, it's clear what kind of weapon he is offensively, and he allows the Clippers to play a spread, collaborative offensive style that's a sharp contrast from the Chris Paul era.
3. Early in the season the Clippers are one of the top teams in the entire NBA. Who is most responsible for L.A.'s hot start?
HANN: It has to be Blake Griffin, who is playing like an MVP candidate and dominating opponents nightly. And in the Clippers' most difficult win of the season--a one-point victory in Portland--Blake had 16 fourth quarter points and hit the game winning three at the buzzer.
4. The Grizzlies have undergone some serious remodeling themselves, having said goodbye to Zach Randolph and Tony Allen via free agency. Is this still a rivalry now that the "Grit and Grind" and "Lob City" eras have ended?
HANN: This is a kind of interesting question that I was recently considering with respect to the Warriors now that the Clippers have had so much roster turnover. I think we have to wait and see how the teams interact to determine if the rivalry is still alive. I'm leaning towards yes--the blog rivalry remains fierce and I expect it to be reflected on the court.
5. Prediction time- how do you see this November matinee in La La Land playing out?
I do think that the Clippers will win, especially coming off of a blowout win against Dallas that allowed for them to return to good form. I will say, though, that Memphis' early success against good teams has me worried about this matchup. I still had the Grizzlies as a playoff team heading into the season, so it's been nice to see them prove their legitimacy early on.