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
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
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.