The same-ol' Clippers syndrome surfaced when Bobby Simmons skipped town, but you have to give the team credit for spending some money and filling the void with free agent Cuttino Mobley. He'll undoubtedly force Corey Maggette to the small forward spot, allowing them to keep their strength on the wing intact. Grade: B.
Corey Maggette: Maggette will serve as the Clippers' primary scoring option on offense.
Elton Brand: Brand has consistently averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds per game in his career.
Sam Cassell, Guard The Godfather: Entering his 13th season, Cassell clearly has the respect of backup Shaun Livingston, who referred to him as the godfather of the team and someone he can't wait to learn from. That's great news if Cassell can be a positive influence and rebound from last year's disappointing, injury-riddled final season with Minnesota. He's a much greater perimeter threat than Livingston or the departed Marko Jaric, which should make things more fluid offensively.
Shaun Livingston, Guard The Phenom: The 20-year-old displayed flashes of brilliance last year, but considering how difficult it is to make a splash right out of high school at the game's most cerebral position, it didnít help that he played in just 30 games because of to injuries. He's 10 pounds heavier as his sophomore season begins and has a mentor in place in Cassell, easing the pressure on him to put the playmaking duties on his shoulders. Hopefully that will keep him in the lineup enough to gain much needed experience.
Chris Wilcox, Forward Mature contributor: Mike Dunleavy has gone out on a limb and stated that a great year from Wilcox would "definitely" deliver a playoff berth, and it's easy to understand why. The Clips had a strong start when the former lottery pick was content and producing, then fell off when his rebounding and defending was no longer sufficient enough to merit significant playing time. If he can put it all together, L.A.'s frontcourt would be deep and dangerous.
Is there enough in place to reach the postseason in the ultra-competitive West? With a brand new backcourt arriving, the Clippers are hoping they have enough talent to do it. Chris Kaman has shown consistent improvement, and Corey Maggette and Elton Brand are already one of the top forward combos in the league, so why shouldn't L.A. feel like it can contend? In order to finish among the top eight, Cassell must have a grand exit left in him, Cuttino Mobley must return reinvigorated, and the promising Livingston must stay healthy and continue to improve. Unfortunately, Mike Dunleavy's team can't afford to start slow, and there might be an adjustment period as the guards look to find their niche.
Shaun Livingston has a lot of talent and hopes to stay away from injuries that riddled his rookie season. (Getty Images)
Projected finish: 4th, Pacific division Projected win total: 33-40 Team MVP: Elton Brand Leading scorer: Corey Maggette Leading rebounder: Brand Leading assists: Sam Cassell Top defender: Brand