2009/10 Review:

The Los Angeles Clippers had really high expectations for last season and actually this time, those expectations were pretty legit. After all Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman were healthy entering the season; Baron Davis promised to have a bounce back season; the Clippers were “lucky” enough to earn the top pick in the draft and chose Blake Griffin, who was the number one candidate to win the Rookie of the Year award and they were also counting with the natural development of SG Eric Gordon, who enjoyed a good rookie season.

Those were the Clippers’ recipients to avoid being a mediocre team once again, but we all know what happened to them (once again).

Blake Griffin never had a chance to play in the regular season, but the Clippers were still talented enough to make some splash in the Western Conference. However, on the offensive end, the Clippers were the third worst offensive team in the league (in terms of offensive efficiency) and even their defense left much to desire.

Their mental toughness was always questionable during the regular season and they showed several times that they just gave up on the games. I remember that the Clippers after being embarrassed in New Jersey against the Nets, losing the game by 16 points, they went to Minnesota and lost by 14 points, just be trounced by 26 points in the first quarter (20-46) in the following game against the Cavaliers.

It was another season to forget for the Clippers which unfortunately for the franchise has been the usual instead of being an exception.

2009/10 Advanced Stats:

Pace                18th 95.2
Offense           28th 100.4
Defense          24th 107.3
Rebounds       13rd +0.73

2010/11 Outlook:

Projected Depth Chart:

PG: Baron Davis, Randy Foye, Eric Bledsoe
SG: Eric Gordon, Rasual Butler, Willie Warren
SF: Ryan Gomes, Al-Farouq Aminu, Marqus Blakely
PF: Blake Griffin    , Craig Smith, Brian Cook
C: Chris Kaman, DeAndre Jordan, Jarron Collins

In a team badly searching for a true leading general on the floor, Blake Griffin must be the best thing that could happen to the franchise. He won’t lead by experience; instead it will be by his example on and off the court.

Barring any possible injury, Griffin’s destiny is to dominate the game at his position. Last season, he didn’t play a single game, so he is qualified to win the Rookie of the Year award this year and a leading candidate by the way. I remember that in the college, he averaged 22.7 points and 14.4 rebounds per game, while shooting 65% from the floor.

The biggest challenge of his development goes to the new head coach Vinny Del Negro, who was fired from the Bulls at the end of the last season, after leading the Bulls to two playoffs appearances in consecutive seasons, but in both of them the Bulls were the last seed in the East and were eliminated in the first round. In Chicago, Del Negro didn’t have a dominant or a potential dominant Power Forward like Griffin to coach, so this will be his biggest challenge in the first season in Los Angeles.

Baron Davis had an awfully terrible first season within a Clippers’ uniform, so last season he promised to bounce back and indeed his numbers from the last season improved. However, that wasn’t enough for a talented player like Baron Davis. He shot only 40.6% from the field and a miserable 27.7% clip behind the arc, while playing 75 games. As much as the Clippers are frustrated about Baron Davis, he still has three years left on his deal with the Clippers at $41.6-million. With all of the youngsters on this club, though, he’s going to be looked upon as a leader based on what he has already accomplished when motivated and happy. If he just isn’t able to regain his old form than the Clippers must think in others options and trade him; however is there any team in this league that is interested on him?

After two injured riddled season, Chris Kaman was able to play 76 games last season and he earned an all star nod. He went for 18.5 points and 9.2 rebounds per game, although he shot below the 50% mark from the field. At 28-years old and playing along with Blake Griffin, this is a pivotal year for him in his affirmation as a top center in the league, however I just can’t ignore what his former coach Kim Hughes said about him:

“We’d had a much more efficient team if Chris played a little bit better defense,” said Hughes.  “You probably wouldn’t win a championship with him being the first option.  He doesn’t recognize doubles enough.  If he was the second option and guys aren’t doubling him as much I think he’d be more effective.  Instead of shooting 49% from the floor now he’d probably shoot around 54-55%.  It’s not the pressure.  It’s just that he doesn’t react well when you throw the ball into the post late shot clock and he’s got three guys around him.  He doesn’t realize right away what his first option is.  It takes him a dribble to find out what to do and that’s not a good situation.”

Will Chris Kaman step up on his game knowing that he won’t have the pressure to be the “man” down low in the post?

After having a terrific rookie season, Eric Gordon had a tough sophomore campaign. Nagging injuries derailed him, as he played just 62 games last season. Even when healthy, he failed to be more effective on the court as his FG%, 3pts% and FT%’s numbers decreased. Probably he will never be a “superstar” player, but the Clippers need him to be spot up shooter because having Blake Griffin to operate down low, the Clippers will have to spread the floor with good shooters like Eric Gordon is.

The Clippers selected Al-Farouq Aminu in the draft, but probably it is soon for him to log major minutes and so Ryan Gomes is the expected to start at Small Forward early on the season. Gomes is the ultimate definition of a role player, as he can offer almost everything, but he is not great in any particular facet of the game. He started 64 games last year for the Timberwolves and scored 10.9 points and grabbed 4.6 rebounds per game.

Combo Guard Randy Foye was signed in this offseason to improve the depth of the Clippers’ backcourt and Foye is yet to show some positive signs about his play. He had the chance to play major minutes during his 4-years career in the NBA and the window of opportunity is closing fast for him. Sharpshooter Rasual Butler didn’t repeat his good season in New Orleans and was basically a non factor despite playing 33 minutes per game. Surely the organization won’t allow him to have another inconsistent season and still be playing for more than 30 minutes per game.

On the frontcourt, the Clippers have DeAndre Jordan and Rhino Craig Smith who can bring high energy to the court, but offering little on the offense than grabbing some offensive boards and provide good screens.

Once again the Clippers have the potential to be something special this season. Their starting lineup looks impressive on paper and their second unit isn’t surely the worst unit in the league, however a team is more than a mere collection of pieces, you got to complete the puzzle and the word “chemistry” is the key word in this season for them.