Is Los Angeles big enough?

There has been a lot of buzz lately about basketball in the city of Los Angeles. In the past this buzz likely would have been completely about the Lakers. Times are changing folks.

As the All-Star break draws nearer; the bottom-line of each team’s season becomes more and more clear. The tops of each division are looking similar to the past few years, except in the pacific division. Sitting at the top of the division, above the second place Lakers (13-9), is the new look Los Angeles Clippers (13-6). For Years the Clippers have sat in the Lakers shadow. This was due to a combination of things: bad drafts, a stingy owner, questionable front office moves.

The hasty turnaround story of this Clippers franchise can be traced all the way back to 2009 with the selection of Oklahoma big man Blake Griffin. Griffin then of course hurt his knee and lost his rookie season to injury. Since his highflying debut in 2010 he has taken the league by storm. The Clippers have become one of the fastest growing fan bases in the NBA over the last year or so. This has a lot to do with Griffin flooding Sportcenter’s top ten plays night in and night out with his highlight reel dunks. After Chris Paul’s unexpected arrival this summer, analysts and fans alike began predicting big things.

One would think this young Clipper’s squad would have a lot to prove before the word rivalry was ever mentioned. The Lakers have asserted their dominance over the Clippers for years, winning five out of the last eleven championships. As a Lakers supporter this is difficult to admit, but due to weaknesses at the point guard position, the Clippers are a better team than the Lakers right now.

These two teams have split the regular season series even thus far at one game apiece. However the Clippers have performed better against the rest of the league. Early on, the Clippers have flashed signs of greatness with Chris Paul distributing the rock. One can only expect these flashes to become a more consistent flame as the season rolls on. Not only is Chris Paul becoming more comfortable with his teammates, you can see his teammates becoming more comfortable with him. Paul’s chemistry with young bigs Blake Griffin and Deandre Jordan has increased rapidly.

The Lakers on the other hand have been relying heavily on the offensive production of veteran All-Star shooting guard Kobe Bryant. Bryant is having a resurgence of sorts this year after having experimental knee surgery in the off-season. With the loss of Head Coach Phil Jackson, Bryant has tried to take the offensive load off new defensively focused head coach Mike Brown. Although this has put the Lakers in playoff contention, they still remain looking up at their cross-town rivals. While the Clippers have plentiful depth at the point guard position. The Lakers, after failing to bring in Chris Paul this offseason, headed into the year with holdover Steve Blake and veteran Derek Fisher as the only established points on the roster.

Just a few games into the season it was easy to see the Lakers were lacking a sustainable option at the point guard position. Until these circumstances change, I have a hard time seeing the Lakers overtake the Clippers in the standings. With Blake sidelined with injury and Fisher limited by his age; the Lakers are in desperate need of help. If the Lakers succeed in bringing in a young athletic point guard such as Devin Harris; the advantage the Clippers hold over the Lakers will decrease significantly.

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