Kobe Bryant has long reigned over Los Angeles as the hallmark NBA attraction for West Coast basketball fans, but with point guard Chris Paul being traded to the L.A. Clippers, we'll be seeing a refreshing brand of exciting basketball.
It was a blockbuster deal waiting to happen: all-star Paul was traded from the New Orleans Hornets to the young L.A. Clippers, and the Clips gave up Eric Gordon, Chris Kaman, Al-Farouq Amin for Paul.
Since he was drafted in 2005, Paul has enjoyed a career average of 18.7 points and 9.9 assists a game. He's known as a defensive powerhouse, racking up at least a steal per game. Paul is definitely one of the elite players in the NBA.
Now that he'll be playing for the Clippers in this shortened NBA season, expect to see thrilling plays between Paul and last year's Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin. The forward who dunks over cars will now have Paul lobbing him alley-oop passes, and those remarkable plays will happen often off pick-and-rolls. Also, Paul is a master dribbler and one of the fastest players in the league, so we'll see a new kind of L.A. Clippers stampeding down the Staples Center.
Speaking of this storied stadium, Kobe Bryant of the Lakers has long been the talk of Tinseltown, for good reason. With several championship rings decorating his fingers, Bryant is one of the best shooters in the NBA and known for his fourth-quarter heroics.
But this year, the Lakers may not be as electrifying to watch as the L.A. Clippers. The Lakers have Pau Gasol and Derek Fisher as long-time stalwarts but they're steady if not ho-hum; they don't excite fans like the Kobe-Shaq connection of yesteryear. And with Lamar Odom being shipped to Dallas, the Lakers lost a fan favourite (and Sixth Man of the Year Award winner).
Kobe had his day in the L.A. sun but in 2012, it'll be all Paul. He'll be flanked by newly acquired Chauncy Billups (Mr. Clutch, undoubtedly) and he won't only have Griffin at his high-flying disposal but also DeAndre Jordan, a dunker with serious hops. Paul didn't have this kind of talent in New Orleans; once he gets accustomed to the game plan, he'll fit right in and give L.A. fans some truly thrilling plays.
Bryant recently told ESPN: "I think it's good for L.A. to have two teams that are competitive." Kobe is right, and for once we could have a very interesting L.A. vs. L.A. scenario come playoffs. Of course, that's what everyone in California - if not the entire NBA fan base - is hoping for these days.
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