The Los Angeles Lakers and Clippers held their Media Day this past Monday which marks the unofficial start of the 2014-15 NBA season.
The Clippers are stacked with talent and are one of the preseason favorites to win the NBA championship. The Lakers on the other hand aren’t being picked by most to even make the playoffs in a very deep Western Conference and have numerous questions surrounding their team that we aren’t going to get answered until well into the season.
The disparity in talent was apparent during Media Day: The Clippers showcasing two players on the All-NBA team and another that came in 3rd in the Defensive Player of the Year award. The Lakers, well they trotted out a 36 year old Kobe Bryant coming off two major injuries and hope.
It’s pretty clear that a list of the best NBA talent in Los Angeles would be dominated by those donning red and blue jerseys, but to what extent? Just how many Los Angeles Lakers could crack the top ten list of the best in L.A.? We discussed it, took a tally and found out. The results are a little surprising.
The following is a video of our top 10 ranking of NBA players in Los Angeles. Please note that the song in the video is the explicit version; it’s really not that vulgar but you definitely won’t hear this version on the radio.
Below the video you’ll find a short summary of our reasoning for each player’s position in our top ten list.
Top 10 NBA Players in Los Angeles
10. Jordan Hill – Lakers
- Hill is coming off a career year which he then turned into a lucrative two year deal to return to the Lakers. Last season, Hill registered career high averages in points, rebounds, blocks, minutes and shot a career best 54.9 percent from the field.
- Hill’s game is centered around a strong motor and racking up the hustle points, which is ideal for a player coming in off the bench.
- Last season, Hill got the opportunity to start and played well; however, was unable to produce consistently after a few strong performances.
- That is the main question going into this season for Hill: Is he able to sustain the energy he brings in spurts as a reserve for 30 plus minutes a game as a starter or is his effectiveness only reproducible coming in off the bench?
- Hill has been pegged as the early favorite to start so it looks like we’ll get an answer to that question; until then, he comes in 10th on our list.
9. Spencer Hawes – Clippers
- One of the best and quietest free agent signings this off-season was the acquisition of sweet shooting big man Spencer Hawes by the Clippers. Hawes signed a 4 year, 23 million dollar deal to back up both DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin. It is surprising that Hawes was not sought after more due to his unique combination of size and skill.
- At 7 feet tall and 245 pounds, Hawes can rebound, block a few shots a game like a big, and play in the perimeter with his adept outside shooting ability.
- Hawes shot a career high 41.6 percent from behind the 3 point line last season with Philadelphia and Cleveland and knocked down 78.3 percent of his free throws.
- Hawes shooting touch is a perfect compliment to either Griffin or DeAndre Jordan which should result in loads of playing time. The number of open looks that Hawes will receive with the level of talent around him could result in a break out year, but until then, he’s comes in number 9 on our list.
8. JJ Redick – Clippers
- It might not have seemed this way but Redick had one of his best seasons last year, achieving career high averages in points and steals; as well career highs in free throw and field goal percentage. What probably led to overlooking Redick’s season is that he only appeared in 35 games due to numerous aliments including a sore shoulder, sore hip, back spasms, lower back soreness, bruised knee and a wrist injury.
- While Redick’s game is not well-rounded which keeps him down on our list, his deadly outside shot with its quick release is vitally important to the Clippers success on offense. Redick’s presense is needed to keep defenses honest and provide the spacing necessary for bigs Griffin and Jordan to work down low.
- We should expect more of the same from Redick this coming season; hopefully for the Clippers, for a full 82 games.
7. Nick Young – Lakers
- Young had a bounce back year last season; much of that can be attributed to D’Antoni’s fast paced offense that encourages quick shots from deep which is Young’s specialty (quick shots.)
- Young averaged a career high 17.9 points per game, majority of which was while coming off the bench (started only 9 out of 64 games.)
- Young, similar to Jamal Crawford, is a high potent offensive player that can get hot quickly and carry an offense for stretches. The issue is that throughout his career it is only in sporadic stretches that Young’s offense can be counted on and his lack of consistency is why he has been seen mainly as a reserve.
- That being said, Young is a highly skilled offensive player that can score in a multitude of ways, including creating offense off the dribble which comes in handy during crunch time, when plays break down and at the end of the shot clock.
6. Jeremy Lin – Lakers
- Lin hasn’t developed into the star player that many had envisioned him becoming following his break out year with the New York Knicks 3 seasons ago. Much of that had to do with his role in his 2 years in Houston not quite taking advantage of his set of skills. Lin’s development was drastically affected by the acquisition of James Harden which occurred shortly after Houston acquired him.
- Of the players on both the Clippers and Lakers roster this coming season, Lin possesses one of the more well rounded games. Lin is versatile with his point guard skills to play lead guard while also having the size and outside shooting touch to play off guard.
- Lin can get to the basket and finish with the best in the league; Lin shot 49.5 percent off drives last season which ranked higher than point guards Ty Lawson, John Wall and Damian Lillard; the latter 2 being All-Stars last season.
- In addition to his offensive prowess, Lin is a solid defender for his position which is routinely overlooked by many covering the game. Lin’s all-around game places him 6th on our list.
5. Jamal Crawford – Clippers
- Crawford is entering his 15th season and getting up there in age but is still one of the most potent guards coming in off the bench.
- Last season Crawford averaged 18.6 points per game, shot 36.1 percent from 3 and 86.6 from the charity stripe. Crawford’s efficiency from 3 and the free throw line pays dividends when you operate in volume as he did from those two areas. Crawford ranked 8th in the NBA last season in 3 point shots attempted per game with 6.5 taken per game and got to the line 4.7 times per game which ranked 3rd on the team only behind Griffin and CP3.
- Crawford doesn’t provide much outside of his scoring ability, but that one ability is still one of the most difficult to defend in the league and propels him to 5th on our list.
4. DeAndre Jordan – Clippers
- Before the season started last year coach Doc Rivers put DeAndre Jordan on notice; what he wanted out of Jordan was that he improve his rebounding and be in the running for defensive player of the year. Lofty goals for a player that had grossly underachieved considering his amazing set of physical tools and massive contract, but to DeAndre’s credit he meet the expectations and probably even exceeded them. Jordan led the league in rebounding, finished 3rd in blocks per game and 3rd in the Defensive Player of the Year voting behind Joakim Noah and Roy Hibbert.
- Jordan has turned into a defensive force down low and the anchor of the Clippers defense which ranked 5th in opponents field goal percentage.
- Jordan’s offensive game still has a lot of room to grow, but even in its current state he was able to contribute 10.4 points per game last season which was a career high, and did so at an exceptionally high level of efficiency; Jordan led the league in field goal percentage, shooting 67.6 percent from the field.
3. Kobe Bryant – Lakers
- Kobe is 36 years old, is coming off an Achilles rupture and a knee fracture and has only played in 6 official games in over 1 year. So how can we rank him 3rd in our list taking the current circumstances into account? Well, its Kobe Bryant and he’s earned the benefit of the doubt over his 18 year career. We firmly believe Kobe will be the same, or very close to the Kobe we saw 2 years ago before he suffered the Achilles rupture.
- The Kobe of 2 years ago was magnificent. In the 2012-13 season, Bryant was named to the All-NBA 1st team, the 11th time he received the honor; finished 5th in the MVP voting; his 27.3 points per game ranked 3rd in scoring average; and topped his career average in points, assists, rebounds and field goal percentage.
- Kobe is no longer the 1st team NBA defender that he once was, but he did show that he can play lock down D at select times.
- Even if Kobe can only return to 70 percent of what we saw 2 years ago that is still enough to place him as one of the top 3 shooting guards in the league and easily the 3rd best player in Los Angeles.
2. Blake Griffin – Clippers
- Griffin took a massive leap from an exciting high flyer that’s fun to watch to one of the best player’s in the league. Griffin increased his scoring average to 24.1 points (6th in NBA) which was a 6 point increase from the previous season.
- Griffin finished 3rd in the MVP voting last season, finishing only behind Kevin Durant and Lebron James.
- What had been a major weaknesses in Griffin’s game, his free throw shooting was greatly improved last season, finishing at a respectable 71.5 percent, up from 66 percent the previous season.
- A case could have been made for Griffin to top the list and it was close, but he is not quite there yet.
1. Chris Paul – Clippers
- Chris Paul had a typical Chris Paul type season last year: was named to the All-NBA first team, named to the All-Defensive first team, led the league in steals for the 6th time and led the league in assists for the 3rd time in his career.
- Paul is still the one pulling the strings while on the court. Just about everything that is accomplished by the Clippers either begins or ends with Paul who led the league with a 48.9 assist percentage (field goals a player assisted while on the floor) last season.
- While both Griffin and Jordan took massive leaps individually last season, Paul maintained his incredibly high level of play that he has exhibited throughout his 9 year career and it is that dependability and level of consistency that the Clippers depend on from their leader.
- The continued stellar play on both ends of the court and extraordinary job in his role as leader to a championship contending team is what compels us to naming Paul number 1 on our list of the ten best NBA players in Los Angeles.
Randle hasn’t played an NBA game to date so we are going to hold off on having him take any spots in the top ten from players that have already proven themselves. We fully expect Randle to eventually turn into a formidable NBA big man with his special combination of girth, strength, quickness and nimbleness; however, the key word being eventually, not now. From all indications Randle will start the season backing up Carlos Boozer at the power forward spot and playing with the 2nd unit. Like most rookies with little experience he’ll take time to develop as he acclimates to the speed of the NBA game. His time will come, just not this season.
If healthy, even at the age of 40 years old, Nash is still a highly productive player. We saw last season, albeit a very small sample size, that Nash can still do many of the things that he had done during his times with Phoenix. His outside shot will never falter and is as crafty as ever. Nash is expected to produce well this season being his game was never heavily reliant on supreme athleticism or freakish physical tools. Availability is the major question with Nash. While all reports coming in are that Nash looks great and is no longer experiencing issues with nerve irritation which was the major reason for him only playing in 15 games last season, until we actually see it with our own eyes the Lakers cannot depend on him being a contributor and we can’t consider him for our top ten list.