2012 Clippers Ten Game Report Card
If it was you who had the distinction of being a Clippers fan since 1989 would you wait until the All-Star weekend to grade their progress after acquiring Chris Paul this off-season? Not a chance, don’t forget this season was shortened due to fiscal challenges between the league and players! After today’s Martin Luther King day victory over the New Jersey Nets, a couple of things rang through my head. No, it wasn’t Randy Foye’s sweet double double (13 points, 10 assists), nor was it any of the fun dunks but those are something happening more on the regular for this season’s Clip squad. If you haven’t been watching, this is one team living up to their media-friendly nickname (Lob City). There’s no hesitation to say they are the team to watch this season, win or lose you are going to see sick amounts of vicious dunking. Still, the one thing I’m having so much trouble keeping skin deep is my enthusiasm for their front office to make the call to sign Chauncey Billups. The slippery point guard is a true leader that has brought a world of legitimacy to a messed up franchise. No, I don’t think they’d won 7 of their first 10 games without Paul, but Chauncey has made a significant impact. Earlier today he said, “They kind of had the momentum swung in their favor, and during the timeout, Vinny drew up a great play—kind of a misdirection pick-and-roll play—and my defender kind of got caught up in a shuffle down there and it gave me time to set my feet.”
Honestly, there’s nothing a winning veteran loves more than getting an opportunity to set his feet.
The Clippers signed Chauncey after the New York Knicks released him using the league’s amnesty clause. So the Knicks will pay him $12 million while the Clippers will pick up the rest of tab on his $14 million salary. Talk about a deal. The one thing the team can’t do is trade him this year, which is one of the wonderful features of the clause. The only way Chauncey would be able to play for another team is if he got released. Unlikely!
Another interesting aspect of the way things are going for the Clippers is the fact that they have consistently been host a Martin Luther King Day celebration, complete with an “Afro-American” choir to sing the National Anthem, as well as a video presentation discussing the meaning of MLK Day. There is a lot of energy at these games and each year it grows a little more in popularity. If you haven’t been to Staples Center for the Clippers’ MLK day game, it is well advised, however I have heard there is a similar energy rising in Memphis where the Grizzlies hosted their 10th annual MLK Day game.
Were report cards due today, this is how the grades might look at this juncture of the NBA season:
Guards: The Clippers are winning games thanks to the play of Paul, Billups and Foye. When you have distribution of the ball to your players above the rim and getting back to play some defense and hit clutch threes AND hit your free throws, you have one lethal collaboration. Mo Williams is still a deadly shooter who has adjusted to a role where he is a little lower on the totem. Together, these guys are getting it done and their rotation rarely looks tired, slow or unconcerned with the outcome whether they are winning or losing and this is something the team hasn’t seen in years.
Forwards: Again, this has been a unit getting it done. The forward spot looked like it was going to be confusing, but the players, Blake Griffin and Caron Butler and Ryan Gomes have managed to work well together. We know Blake can score 30 on any night, but knowing that Butler is also a prolific scorer ready to pick up on any slack he is given makes the team solid in this area after 10 games. They are also getting some solid contributions from rookie Trey Thomkins. Even though they are getting 11+ rebounds per game from Griffin, the team is a little weak defensively here.
Center: The question mark on this team, can the Clippers win with DeAndre Jordan in the middle? So far he has let his scoring suffer for the benefit of the team, but I’ve seen him take over games and he’s no pushover on offense. Rebounding and keeping true big men from controlling games is going to be a problem, though they managed to fair pretty well against Aldridge (Portland) and Bynum (Lakers). Reggie Evans has been an excellent bench player that keeps the defensive pressure on when Jordan takes a blow. With the majority of the team doing a bulk of the scoring, they don’t miss a whole lot by running offenses through their guards and forwards. Unfortunately, Brian Cook is still lingering. All they need is one good excuse to dump him off and the grade can be restored.
Overall Grade: B+
Tags: basketball, blake griffin, centers, chris paul, clippers, forwards, grades, guards, nba