The Clippers’ “Lob City” upstages the Lakeshow; new look Mavs prepare title defense and other news, analysis from around the NBA. And Now Introducing…“Lob City” After the Clippers traded for Chris Paul and picked up Chauncey Billups via free agency, it didn’t take long for the team’s current all-star Blake Griffin to assign them a catchy nickname: Lob City.Yes, Lob City. It’s a name sure to gain traction throughout the season as one of the NBA’s best facilitators, Paul, connects with one of the league’s best finishers, Griffin, for alley-oop dunks.Already, the buzz and excitement surrounding the Clippers has exceeded anything this franchise has witnessed probably since Coach Larry Brown guided them to the playoffs in consecutive seasons.If you want to gauge the buzz surrounding the Clippers, consider this, they drew 6,000-plus fans to their scrimmage at the Galen Center Sunday.Yeah, you read that right, A SCRIMMAGE!Since both the NBA owners and players came to their senses and hammered out a new labor agreement a few weeks back, the condensed preseason and schedule weren’t lost on Paul.After the scrimmage he told ESPN, “All of the practices and all of the exhibition games we have now are so vital, because we don’t have a lot of time.”“It’s not like a regular training camp, where you have a month,” he continued. “Today was basically our second practice.”Well, if that was the Clippers’ second practice, Monday’s game against the Lakers must have been their third.Frankly, the Clippers made the Lakers look like old men. Clippers perimeter players blew-by Lakers defenders; contested shots at the basket; and at times, ran an effective full-court offense.Albeit, it’s tough to draw any conclusions from a preseason game, but, one thing’s for certain, the Clippers brand of basketball has surpassed the Lakers’ on the excitement-meter.Whether Lob City can rival the ‘80s Showtime Lakers in terms of hype and wins remains to be seen.If the Clippers’ new additions can remain healthy, who knows how this team can fare in what looks to be an unusual NBA season.Either way, I’m sure there will be no shortage of Paul-to-Blake or DeAndre Jordan highlights coming to a TV screen near you.New Look Mavs Prepare For Title Defense Typically, defending champions maintain their rosters; however, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has gone the opposite route.To say that the Mavericks shook up their roster would be an understatement.Gone are players such as J.J. Barea, Tyson Chandler, DeShawn Stephenson and Caron Butler.New faces include Vince Carter, Lamar Odom, Delonte West and Brandan Wright.With the exception of Butler, who was injured throughout last season’s championship run, the other three players were integral. Barea’s boost of energy off the bench was invaluable; Chandler’s defensive prowess and rebounding helped the Mavericks shed their soft image and Stephenson’s perimeter defense gave the Miami Heat fits in the Finals.Still, even with the losses, the Mavericks will be right there competing with Oklahoma City and the Lakers for the Western Conference crown.Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Shawn Marion and Jason Terry still make up a good core. Young players such as Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones will have larger roles.With that said, the Mavericks will regret losing Chandler the most.Last year, with Chandler, the Mavericks were 14th in the league in rebounding and 10th in defense, allowing 96 points per game.On the surface, those numbers are modest. However, they were just good enough to allow the NBA’s perennial bridesmaids to capture a title.Now, Nowitzki will have to rely on centers Brendan Haywood and Ian Mahinmi to replace Chandler’s production.Sure, Odom will help out on the glass, but he won’t help clog up the defensive void left by Chandler.Ultimately, I don’t like the moves, aside from acquiring Odom for next to nothing.Losing Chandler will now force Nowitzki to operate more in the paint on both ends of the floor. Nowitzki’s capable, but clearly, he’s more comfortable on the perimeter where his wingspan and face-up game allow him to flourish.Barea’s loss could hurt, too. Jason Kidd is 38 years old and Beaubois is largely unproven. An injury to Kidd could prove disastrous.Perhaps, the Mavericks front office took a look at the Lakers and Celtics championship teams the past several seasons. Both teams largely kept their rosters intact and faltered after winning titles.We’ll see if the reconfigured Mavericks’ moves result in another title.Impressive Roster Additions Not to heap too much praise on the Clippers before they win an official game, but it’s hard not to overlook their off season additions and get excited.True, Paul and Caron Butler have been injury plagued lately, but if they stay healthy, they’ll do wonders for the Clippers, and not only from a production standpoint.Paul’s a leader with the uncanny ability to make players around him better. Billups, an ex-champion with the Detroit Pistons, will bring savvy veteran leadership that will aid the development of players such as Griffin, Jordan and Eric Bledsoe.Billups’ ex-teammate, Richard Hamilton, joined the Chicago Bulls, and could be the missing piece for a title run.At times last season, Derrick Rose and the Bulls failed to find another consistent scorer. Hamilton’s an older player, but he’s still potent from the outside and can create his own shot.Look for the Bulls to push the Heat, Celtics and Knicks in the east.And speaking of the Knicks, they were woeful on defense last year, but the addition of Chandler should work wonders towards making them a contender.With Chandler on the roster, A’mare Stoudemire’s days as the team’s de facto center are numbered, which is a good thing.Stoudemire has never been comfortable playing center on the defensive end of the floor since his days in Phoenix. Now, Stoudemire can play consistently at the big forward.Portland’s still reeling from the announced retirement of Brandon Roy, but the acquisition of Jamal Crawford will provide some much needed firepower.Adding Raymond Felton at point guard will solidify the Blazers backcourt.Milwaukee just missed the playoffs last season, but trading for Stephen Jackson could help them grab a spot this year in the Eastern Conference.
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