by Marcel Mutoni @marcel_mutoni

The NBA season has yet to begin, and for all teams, hope springs eternal. Yes, even for the star-crossed Los Angeles Clippers.

Coming off a promising year that saw the rise of Blake Griffin as an All-Star talent, the Clips like their chances this season, and are making bold statements about what the near future holds.

From the LA Times:

[Mo] Williams said he has told all who will listen and all of the naysayers that “one thing that I can guarantee” is the Clippers will play in the postseason in 2012. “We’re right behind him in that regard,” [Blake] Griffin said Friday after another workout at the team’s practice facility in Playa Vista. “That’s the mentality and the mind-set of our whole team. That’s something that I’ve been thinking about personally all summer. So I have no problems with him saying that. But at the same time we have to back that up and we have to be ready. And I think from talking to everybody, everybody is fired up and ready to go, and I think that’s the direction we’re headed in.”

“We’re going to go to the playoffs this year,” Williams said. “That’s what is going to happen. It’s just how far we’re going to go, that’s what it is. But we’re going to the playoffs.” Why does he feel that way? After all, the Clippers have not made the playoffs since 2006, and their last appearance before that was in 1997. “We’ve got the personnel in place,” Williams said. “And I know my leadership qualities. I know how hard I worked this off-season to prepare for this, and there’s no way I won’t be in the playoffs this year.”

The postseason guarantee isn’t entirely far-fetched. Last year, the Clippers appeared on their way to making the Playoffs until a rash of injuries (and general Clipper-ness) got in the way late in the season.

Assuming most of the key contributors stay healthy this time around, Clipper fans should feel just as confident as the players do in their team’s ability to seriously challenge for a Playoff spot in the Western Conference.