Updated: Oct. 27, 2006, 12:08 PM ET

SPECIAL PREVIEW EDITION
Can Clip ship keep sailing?

Clippers

Team Page | Schedule | Roster | Hollinger Stats

Where will the Los Angeles Clippers finish in the Pacific Division and the Western Conference? Get 10 takes from ESPN's NBA experts.


ANALYST COMMENT
Marc
Stein
ESPN.com
Clipperland would be a happier place if Dunleavy and Kaman were signed to extensions by month's end. But there's still a fairy-tale feel here after coming within one win of the West finals and bringing almost everybody back.
DIVISION RANK: 2 | CONFERENCE RANK: 5
Chris
Sheridan

ESPN.com
We won't go as far as to say Corey Maggette will shoot more free throws than anyone else in L.A. -- because Kobe plays there, too. But look for the Clips to feature him in the offense, and look for another 47-win season.
DIVISION RANK: 3 | CONFERENCE RANK: 6
Jim
O'Brien

ESPN.com
Last year was no fluke. This is a tough-minded team that defends well (fourth in defensive FG%). Mike Dunleavy must keep them focused now that they have assumed the dominant position in Tinseltown.
DIVISION RANK: 2 | CONFERENCE RANK: 5
Tim
Legler

ESPN.com
Last year was no fluke. The Clips were a play or two from ending the Suns' season and playing for the West crown. Thomas gives them more versatility and shooting, and Elton Brand is an MVP candidate.
DIVISION RANK: 2 | CONFERENCE RANK: 5
Scoop
Jackson

ESPN.com
There's only so much Sam I Am can do. This year, it's all on E.B., and he will deliver like the original Mailman. But which Tim Thomas did Dunleavy get: the Phoenix one or the other one?
DIVISION RANK: 2 | CONFERENCE RANK: 6
John
Hollinger

ESPN.com
I'm more pessimistic than most, as Elton Brand might have been over his head last year and Sam Cassell is likely to decline. Getting a full season from Corey Maggette would help matters, as would finding Shaun Livingston's jumper.
DIVISION RANK: 3 | CONFERENCE RANK: 8
Chad
Ford

ESPN.com
Just about everything went right for the Clips last year, and the result was a nice playoff run. To repeat that, they need Livingston to take the next step and Maggette to stay healthy.
DIVISION RANK: 2 | CONFERENCE RANK: 5
Ric
Bucher

ESPN Mag
How is a team this loaded not the favorite? Because the Clips' basketball I.Q. doesn't match their talent and there are still legitimate questions about ownership's commitment to winning it all, as opposed to just winning.
DIVISION RANK: 2 | CONFERENCE RANK: 5
Chris
Broussard

ESPN Mag
Season will be very similar to last year's. Key will be Corey Maggette accepting role ... as a role player.
DIVISION RANK: 2 | CONFERENCE RANK: 6
Greg
Anthony

ESPN.com
This team is loaded. If the Clips are together mentally, they can beat anybody in the West. Their success rests in the hands of Shaun Livingston. I expect a breakout year from him. Elton Brand is as good as it gets when you talk about power forwards.
DIVISION RANK: 2 | CONFERENCE RANK: 5
 
Average ranks

DIVISION: 2.2 | Standings
CONFERENCE: 5.6 | Standings


Dunleavy Decisions
Dunleavy
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
"OK, don't insert a guy into playoff crunch time who hasn't stepped on the court yet. Got it ..."


Lineup Breakdown

STARTERS ANALYSIS
Sam Cassell
Point Guard
6-3 | 185
Will start, but Shaun Livingston might close. So, can Sam still lead?
Cuttino Mobley
Shooting Guard
6-4 | 215
Owner's Exhibit A: Second-highest-paid Clip sure doesn't play like it.
Quinton Ross
Small Forward
6-6 | 193
Budding D-specialist is league's best bargain ($771,000).
Elton Brand
Power Forward
6-8 | 254
Workhorse mind-set tested by confidence-sapping summer abroad.
Chris Kaman
Center
7-0 | 265
Board-eater scores with either hand. And here come the offer sheets.
Bench: With Corey Maggette, Livingston and Tim Thomas, they have points, skills, versatility and not nearly enough minutes.

ESPN The Magazine's NBA Preview hit newsstands Oct. 25.



Hollinger's Player Spotlight
James Singleton
Player efficiency rating
projection: 13.81
vs. NBA avg.: -1.19
Clippers profiles

Scouting report: Singleton might be on the court primarily for his athleticism, but unlike a lot of players of this type, he also can shoot, with a nice midrange jumper he'll hit when left open. He was 10-for-20 on 3-pointers last season and should look to expand his game in this direction, as it will make him much more valuable offensively. He has no ballhandling or low post skills, so the jumpers and second shots are pretty much his lone sources of points.

Defensively, Singleton's athleticism makes him a very capable on-ball defender, especially at the small forward spot. However, he's still learning the ropes of NBA defense and needs to improve his reading and reacting off the ball. He also fouled once every eight minutes, which is too much for a perimeter player. Although he's 6-8 and can jump, Singleton is only 216 pounds, so putting him in at the frontcourt -- something that happened far too often last season -- doesn't work out very well.

2006-07 outlook: Singleton's role isn't likely to change much until or unless the team trades Corey Maggette. Quinton Ross already has established himself as the team's primary defensive stopper, and newly signed forward Tim Thomas figures to take most of the minutes that don't go to Ross and Maggette at small forward. He'll be a free agent after the season, and if he plays well, he should vastly increase his league-minimum salary.


Brand Extension
Brand
Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
After his best season as a pro, Elton Brand embarked on an offseason that included Team USA play and producing a Hollywood movie. Then he went to Moscow in the preseason. For his next act, he will help you move the AC unit to the attic.


SportsNation Speaks
The Clippers in the playoffs? SportsNation must have eaten a large pizza and dreamed it up. But a reality check says it's so, and a repeat looks likely. Whoa.

How should the Clippers approach negotiations with Chris Kaman?
58.6% Be careful not to overpay
41.4% Give him what he wants -- he's too important to lose

Vote: Clippers in 2006-07



Ask A Blogger
Clippers

What would it take for you to get a tattoo of the Clippers' logo on your chest?

Elton Brand becomes the first player since Wilt Chamberlain to average 30 points and 15 rebounds in a playoff series as the Clippers knock off the Sacramento Kings 3-1 in the first round.

In Game 6 of the conference semifinals, Tim Thomas' rainbow from beyond the arc avenges the Clippers' loss to Phoenix of a year before.

With the clock expiring in Game 7 of the conference finals, Shaun Livingston, with Josh Howard in his face, heaves an off-balanced alley-oop to Chris Kaman.

In unrelated news, seeking to promote multiethnic housing, The Donald T. Sterling Corporation announces the opening of the Keith Closs Residences.

Kevin Arnovitz | clipperblog.com



Coach's Corner

MIKE DUNLEAVY COACHING FILE
Experience: 13 years
Record: 510-524
Playoffs: 38-33
NBA titles: 0
Coach's profile

With success and high expectations come increased responsibility (and media attention). And in some ways, the Clippers might actually have too much talent.

Newcomer Tim Thomas has never been a chemistry guy; Corey Maggette is back and will want his touches; and youngster Shaun Livingston seems ready to assert himself significantly.

Chris Kaman is in a contract year (unless he signs an extension this week), and Elton Brand is the team's superstar.

Mike Dunleavy has to manage egos as well as shots for everyone.

David Thorpe, ESPN.com NBA analyst



Hollinger's Team Strength
Versatility. Few teams can throw more looks at you than this one, which is amazing considering the team goes only eight deep. L.A. can go big as well as anyone by playing Thomas, Brand and Kaman along the front line.

It can play small ball with the Phoenixes of the world by moving Brand or even Thomas to center and playing Livingston and Maggette at the forward spots. It can pull defenders such as Livingston, Ross and James Singleton off the bench against high scorers, or it can go for offense with a lineup of Cassell, Mobley, Maggette, Thomas and Brand.

Dunleavy's coaching style can make the most of this advantage. Much as he did the last time he had a chameleon roster, in Portland, he gears his play calling toward whichever player has the greatest advantage at a given time by selecting clear outs to pick on weak defenders. The Clips' slowdown style and Cassell's awareness make this much easier to implement.

More Hollinger Clippers analysis Insider



Fantasy Fix
Livingston
Livingston

Sleeper: Shaun Livingston hasn't been able to stay healthy, but if he does, he could wind up being a fine fantasy reserve. Sam Cassell is nearing his 37th birthday, and Livingston is a dynamic playmaker on a team with plenty of offensive options to pass to. Livingston isn't guaranteed big minutes, but his talent should keep him on the court enough to have an impact.

Bust: Tim Thomas' resurgence with the Suns and fine showing in the 2006 playoffs are sure to make him overvalued. Thomas showed he still can score in bunches and knock down the 3, but he won't help in any other categories -- and his playing time will fluctuate.

Keith Lipscomb | Fantasy Hoops Index

 

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