It may be snowing outside my window in Ohio, but at least we’re not in Hell, where it’s about as warm as Barrow, Alaska. (-4 degrees F). The sudden change in the weather may be due to the NBA’s two most laughed at teams in the Western Conference shutting everyone else up.
The Los Angeles Clippers are 9-2. The Golden State Warriors are 7-5. Those two teams sit atop a Pacific Division which includes three other teams: the Phoenix Suns, the L.A. Lakers and the Sacramento Kings. None of those three have better than a .500 record.
The Clippers? The Warriors? Both are good?!? Gosh, when you don’t follow the NBA too closely, an opening month can sure knock you out of your chair.
It’s still early, but these teams look and feel much differently than two franchises who in the last 25 years have a combined 8 playoff appearances.
They’re so bad … “How bad are they?”
The Warriors haven’t won a division since ’77. The Clippers have never finished first.
The Clippers last playoff appearance — in a conference where 8 out of 15 teams make it annually — was ’97. The Warriors last postseason was ’94.
But it seems for the time being they have shed their punch-line status and became the teams to beat in the Pac Division, at least for now.
The Clippers. So hot right now.
It has to be a perpetual headache to play at the STAPLES Center adorned with championship banners that you didn’t win, as they share an arena with the Lakers.
But while the 4-6 Lakers scramble to find an identity and a supporting cast around Kobe Bryant, the 9-2 Clippers seem to have a team built for, if nothing else, a playoff spot.
Elton Brand has always been their anchor. The 6’8″ power forward averages a double-double (24 points/gm, 10 rebounds/gm), leading his team in both categories. He also blocks about two-and-a-half shots per game. Don’t ask me how you block half a shot.
The Clippers brought in two veterans of the game to complement Brand’s inside game. Guards Sam Cassell and Cuttino Mobley add a balanced perimeter attack. The alien-looking Cassell contributes 8 assists a game while Mobley throws down 39 percent of his 3-point shots.
And now, the Warriors
Golden State also brought in veterans of the game. They even grabbed a former Laker point guard.
Derek Fisher ran the point for L.A. during their three-straight championships. Now he plays the role of sixth man for a team just north of L.A. on I-5.
They also lured away pointman Baron Davis (16 points/gm, 8 assists/gm, 2 steals/gm) from the Charl-orleans-homacity Hornets, and they have always had former Michigan State standout Jason Richardson (22 points/gm, 7 rebound/gm).
Who knows if the Clippers and Warriors can both — or either — keep it up and make the playoffs. But who cares? Lack of continuity has always been a point of criticism for the league, and at a time it has to compete with the NFL and college athletics for air time, this first part of the season can only help the NBA.