I figured that I would stay with the So Cal theme from last week and discuss the other Los Angeles team. The Clippers extended Blake Griffin, they brought back Chauncey Billups, and they brought in Jamaal Crawford. They swapped out Nick "Swaggy P" Young for Grant Hill. And maybe, just maybe, Lamar Odom can crawl himself out of his funk. Yes, by all accounts, this was a very good off season for the Clips. But it’s funny, no matter how many improvements the Clippers make, the Lakers ALWAYS seem to 1 up them. With the arrival of Dwight Howard, The Lakers figuratively put their hand on the Clipper's head and ruffled their hair. The Lakers are the handsome, successful older brother with a PHD and the model wife. The Clippers are the fat sibling with an under bite and a bankruptcy. I feel bad for Billy Crystal and the rest of Clipper nation. They just can’t win. However, I'm impressed with the moves the Clippers have made. Donald Sterling has dusted off the old checkbook and seems to actually care about...winning. (Donald Sterling and winning in the same sentence. Wow, can't believe I just typed that...I feel weird.)
$5,000 in one month for Gatorade? Can't these guys just drink water?
Despite what Vinny Del Negro believes, Chris Paul cannot simply do it all by himself. One of the issues in the last year was that CP3 simply wore down. Now that Chauncey is back in the fold, things should be easier for him. For example, in March, they'll play the Mavericks on a Tuesday, and then they have to fly to New Orleans and play the Hornets the next night. In theory, Chris could take off the second night and let Billups slide over to the point. The added rest should help preserve CP3 for the playoffs. If I'm a Clipper fan I'm not overly concerned with Blake Griffin's torn meniscus. By all accounts he should be ready to go by training camp. The main downside to this is that Blake won't have the opportunity to improve his jump shot or his post game this summer. Which, with all his pump fakes, pivots, and body contortions, makes him literally resemble a fish out of water.
Size up. Pivot. Up and under. Double Pump Fake. Step through....Two Points
I’m kind of disappointed in Mo Williams. Last season he was in the perfect role for him. The Clippers needed his scoring off the bench, and while he did provide that at times, he never fully embraced the job. Last summer I had him penciled in as the next 6th man of the year. Now that he's been shipped off to Utah, the Clippers will utilize Jamaal Crawford for this role. Crawford, a former 6th man of the year himself, will be more than happy to provide the needed scoring punch off the bench. With the departure of Nick Young, and the arrival of Grant Hill, the team’s perimeter defense and overall basketball IQ should see a dramatic spike.
Even with all these changes, if Deandre Jordan and Ryan Hollins can't catch and dunk from their spot on floor, the Clippers will get little to no offense from the center position. And while I am a fan of Caron Butler the person, I can't say the same for his game. A typical possession from him includes: Catch and hold the ball for 2-3 seconds, jab step, jab step, two dribbles towards the goal/baseline, pull up jumper. He's Carmelo without any of the good stuff. Del Negro has got figure how to score in the half court. If the Clippers come out of the gate struggling, he'll be out the door and look for Sterling to elect Chauncey Billups to the first player/coach role in the NBA since Dave Cowens. In short, the Los Angeles Clippers have made fantastic moves this off season, yet somehow, they will end up right where they were last season. Right in the middle of the playoff pack looking at a 4 or 5 seed.
Hey, So uh...Guys...What are we gonna do on this next play? Guys?