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NBA Preview: Kings and Clippers


Record:  33-49, 5th in Pacific Division, 11th in Western Conference

Statistical Comparisons:


26th in opponent field goal %
3rd in steals
28th in blocks
3rd in opponent turnovers


8th in the league in scoring (101.3 ppg)
24th in opponent scoring (103.1 ppg)
19th  in ppg differential (-1.8 ppg)
21st in field goal %  
19th in three-point %  
22nd in assists
11th in turnovers
Very Poor offensive rebounding team
Average defensive rebounding team

Significant Additions:  
Mikki Moore, Orien Greene, Spencer Hawes (R)

Significant Subtractions:
Jason Hart

Reggie Theus

Key Players

PG:  Mike Bibby, Orien Greene
SG:   Kevin Martin, John Salmons, Quincy Douby
SF:  Ron Artest, Francisco Garcia
PF:  Shareef Abdur-Rahim, Kenny Thomas
C:  Brad Miller, Mikki Moore, Spencer Hawes

Comments:  Sacramento has a lot of name power.  The names you recognize are slowly drifting into the realm of nostalgia, however.  Mike Bibby, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, and Brad Miller can still score.  Rumors are that Miller even turned over a new leaf in terms of conditioning this year.  But that trio was a lot better three years ago than it is now.  Ron Artest still has plenty of go in him, the question is where his particular brand of "go" will lead him (and how good that will be for the team).  Kevin Martin is their shining, young scoring talent.  He's quick on his feet and can hit from everywhere.  He's skinny as a rail though, leaving him wanting a little on defense.  This is the chronic problem throughout the lineup.  Outside of Artest this is simply a very poor team defensively.  The steals are misleading.  They don't scare anyone.  Throw in a little weakness on the glass and you understand why their high-octane offense isn't enough to compensate.  Oh, and anyone who thinks Reggie Theus is going to devise a game plan to cover the team's defensive weaknesses doesn't remember Reggie Theus very well.

Spencer Hawes is going to be a nice fit for the Kings offensively.  He moves well and has a knack for scoring.  He'll probably learn to be a good rebounder also.  It's hard to see him becoming a defensive stopper though.  It's hard to see the rest of their bench making a huge impact in their weak areas either.  They need to reset that frontcourt badly.  Until they do the Kings will be like a classic car with the chassis intact but without any oomph under the hood.


Record:  40-42, 4th in Pacific Division, 9th in Western Conference

Statistical Comparisons:


1st (tie) in blocks
30th in opponent turnovers


23rd in the league in scoring (95.6 ppg)
9th in opponent scoring (96.1 ppg)
14th  in ppg differential (-0.5 ppg)
19th in field goal %  
10th in opponent field goal %
20th in three-point %  
14th in assists
12th in steals
15th in turnovers
Average offensive rebounding team
Good defensive rebounding team

Significant Additions:  
Ruben Patterson, Brevin Knight, Dan Dickau, Al Thornton (R), Jared Jordan (R)

Significant Subtractions:

Mike Dunleavy

Key Players

PG:  Sam Cassell, Brevin Knight
SG:   Cuttino Mobley, Quinton Ross
SF:  Corey Maggette, Ruben Patterson, Al Thornton
PF:  Tim Thomas, Josh Powell, (Elton Brand)
C:  Chris Kaman

Comments:  I am very upset at the basketball injury gods.  Of course my most bile-filled wrath is reserved for the topic of Greg Oden's knee, but there's enough left over to wonder why the Clippers have to suffer a raft of injuries in what should be their prime years.  They did a very nice job building this team around Elton Brand.  You couldn't wish for a more solid star.  His low post presence and rebounding allows them to play a little fast and loose with the smaller positions.  Cassell, Mobley, and Maggette are the kings of fast and loose.  They have enough scoring punch between them to keep the Clippers in any game.  You could wish for a little better defensive center than Chris Kaman but the guy gives you more than he has the right to, so it's hard to complain.  Except now Brand's injuries are putting the kibosh on the whole deal.  He's the one player they can't afford to lose. With him in there opponents must double team down low, which creates delicious opportunities for all of those opportunistic wings. Now I can hawk all the perimeter players and dare any of their bigs to beat me consistently one-on-one in the post.  That's a whole different ballgame. The Clippers should be a darkhorse to surprise people and come out of the West.  Instead they're struggling to keep their heads above water.

The Clippers have been itching to trade Corey Maggette for a while.  So far the parties are still together but rookie Al Thornton may soon make Maggette expendable.  If he keeps his head on straight and learns a couple things he's going to be a very good scorer in this league.  It's possible the Clips could get something for Maggette that eventually helps shore up the frontcourt.  Ruben Patterson could prosper with Brand out but it's hard to see the two of them playing together.  None of their other acquisitions are likely to make a big impact.

My heart is torn over the Clippers.  With those veterans, their drive, and some decent coaching I want to say they're good, but without Brand they're mediocre at best.  Get well soon, Elton.

--Dave (