They are motivated to prove they can win without Paul.

They’ll play faster, attack the rim more, and generate their usual bounty of foul shots.

But something feels rickety, even beyond health anxiety. The Clips are thin on true wings. They will lean on three-guard lineups, and bigger groups with tweeners — including Gallinari in the starting group — contorting themselves into wings to accommodate Griffin and Jordan. Their defense slipped horribly last season after an airtight first 20 games.

It seems unlikely that Clippers find that 50-win ceiling. If they finish closer to their floor, they’ll end up in the lottery. That could bring seismic change

“It feels tremendous,” said Smart. “I do a lot of things that don’t show up in the stat sheet. And those things, you can’t teach. This league is so focused on scoring the ball, but they don’t look at the other things, like diving on a loose ball when it’s a close game, a one- or two-possession game, getting your team another possession. Or ripping the ball away from somebody or taking a charge.”

The way Smart slimmed down this season, some wondered if he’d still be able to guard bigger and stronger players. Smart found the suggestion that he might struggle amusing.

Irving (13.3 ADP) is being taken a little higher than I’d like, and he plays a point guard position that’s far and away the deepest in fantasy hoops this season. Neither of those are necessarily good things, but Irving has a chance to take his game to a new level in Boston now that he’s finally out of the shadow of LeBron James. I expect Irving to run be the Celtics’ go-to-guy while Gordon Hayward serves as the team’s next-best offensive option. If I can land Davis in the middle of Round 1 and Irving in the middle of Round 2, I’m thrilled with that nucleus.ravens_016

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