It's like a onetime studio head at
Or a legendary
James Worthy admits it: The
Of course, the former
"They have to win the Western Conference or their season is void," said Worthy, now the Lakers studio analyst for
Win the West? Merely getting to the conference finals would be a franchise first.
In their 44 years of existence, the Clippers have had more sub-20-win seasons (eight) than appearances in the conference semifinals (five).
Playoff success is usually incremental, but if anyone is capable of making a giant leap this season, it's the team that retained
The Clippers are generating such a buzz that they should move their annual media day Monday from their practice facility in Playa Vista to the red carpet of Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood.
"We have all the talent in the world, so the sky is the limit for our team, man," center
It's going to be about both the journey and the destination under Rivers. The Clippers won their first Pacific Division title and a franchise-record 56 games under his predecessor,
But Rivers is such a master of the moment that he could induce goosebumps when the Clippers hold their first preseason huddle.
"What he does with the team on the court and in the locker room will have a big effect,"
Rivers' coaching strengths are defense and accountability, the latter of which will certainly be put to the test by a young core that has sabotaged the Clippers' success with mental lapses and immature moments.
Jordan needs to develop his one-dimensional offensive game and consider all possible means — hypnosis, anyone? — to improve his dreadful free-throw shooting.
Blake Griffin must stop yapping at referees over calls and his teammates over perceived slights such as not getting the ball enough.
Even Paul, the perfectionist who can at times be too vocal on the court, has acknowledged he could improve as a leader.
There's one other area that needs a drastic overhaul.
"We definitely have to work on our half-court offense," Jordan said. "That showed in the playoffs."
Lob City was floored for most of the final four games of a first-round loss to the
Having Redick and Dudley should make the offense more dynamic by forcing defenses to pay attention to the three-point line, thereby creating easier opportunities in the interior.
Having Paul gives the Clippers the savvy to continually make the right play.
Having Rivers orchestrate it all means the Clippers are finally poised to make the most of their immense talent.
Win the West? Why not?