Doc Rivers on the Clippers: “I like us against anyone”


Jul 21, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (left) and coach Doc Rivers at press conference at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In the Los Angeles Clippers’ press conference yesterday, the new signings were revealed with their new uniforms and the drastically revamped team looked ready to take the Western Conference by storm. The competition is immensely tough as always, but they’re hungry. More importantly, the Clippers finally have the deep second unit they need to support their elite starting five. As a result, Doc Rivers is feeling very confident about his team’s chances this year.

After the almost surreal re-signing of DeAndre Jordan, when it seemed certain that he was leaving for the Dallas Mavericks, the Clippers’ offseason has become a remarkable success.

By signing Paul Pierce, they’ve added mental toughness, a veteran leader and someone who can close out big games when necessary. With Josh Smith, they have a far more athletic and defensive minded player (with better range, too) to replace Glen Davis as Blake Griffin’s primary backup. Cole Aldrich offers far better interior defense and rebounding than Spencer Hawes ever did, making him an excellent choice as the Clippers’ new backup center.

And with Lance Stephenson, Wesley Johnson and Branden Dawson (who can all play multiple positions), L.A.’s unit of role players is more versatile than ever.

With all that in mind, it’s not surprising that Doc Rivers is feeling confident. Obviously as a head coach he needs to be, but with the Clippers’ new additions, his confidence is more justified than ever.

As has been reported by Arash Markazi of ESPN, Doc had the following to say about the Clippers going forward:

"“It’s been a great summer for us. I love what we’ve assembled. Now the next step for us is to take all this talent on paper [and turn it] into a team. On paper, I like us against anyone.”"

The “on paper” remark by Doc is perfectly apt, as his team can’t be predicted for endless success until we’ve actually seen them play together. With so many new faces and a transformed bench, they’ll need some time to gel and get used to each other’s playing styles.

Take this year’s Cleveland Cavaliers, for example. With Kyrie Irving and the signings of Kevin Love and LeBron James, along with the role players that The King recruited to Cleveland, the Cavs looked like a lock to make the NBA Finals. Of course that’s what happened and they ended up being a great team, and who knows whether they could have defeated the Golden State Warriors in the Finals if Kyrie and Love weren’t eliminated with injury.

But the point is that they took a long time to fit together. The start of their season was rough, to say the least. And even with LeBron on board, they struggled to begin with.

Jul 21, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers players pose with jerseys at press conference at Staples Center. From left: Branden Dawson (22), DeAndre Jordan (6), Austin Rivers (25), coach Doc Rivers and Josh Smith (5), Cole Aldrich (45), Paul Pierce (34) and Wesley Johnson (33). Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Clippers are better off than the Cavaliers in this regard, though. Yes, they have a host of new talent, but their starting five and pivotal players haven’t completely changed. They’ll have a new starting small forward (most likely Pierce), but other than that their starting lineup will be exactly the same. And seeing as those are the players who play the most minutes, new additions won’t shake up the team to the same extent they did in Cleveland.

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However, the Clippers’ second unit does look totally different now. With players such as Stephenson and Smith, who could well play about 20-25 minutes per game this year, they’ll need time to adjust alongside their new teammates. That being said, with an experienced head coach such as Doc Rivers and the best floor general in the game (Chris Paul) to lead them, their transition into L.A. should be a relatively smooth one.

Even if it does take a little time for the Clippers to find their rhythm and potential, it’s ok. The core of this team is exactly the same and it shouldn’t take too long until the bench find their role. Stephenson and Smith will need to watch their efficiency, but they won’t be required to provide as much offense as they have in the past.

One thing is certain, though. The Clippers are deeper than ever, and it shouldn’t be long until you agree with Doc Rivers’ belief that they can compete with anyone.

Next: Paul Pierce says he'll retire with the Clippers