LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
Record: 23-59, 5th in Pacific Division, 12th in Western Conference
29th in the league in scoring (93.8 ppg)
28th in ppg differential (-7.3 ppg)
29th in field goal %
29th in three-point %
18th in opponent scoring (101.1 ppg)
25th in opponent field goal %
8th in free throw attempts per game
6th in free throw percentage
19th in assists
20th in steals
14th in blocks
13th in turnovers
15th (tie) in opponent turnovers
Very Poor offensive rebounding team
Average defensive rebounding team
Significant Additions: Baron Davis, Marcus Camby, Ricky Davis, Brian Skinner, Jason Hart, Eric Gordon (R)
Significant Subtractions: Elton Brand, Corey Maggette, Shaun Livingston
Coach: Mike Dunleavy
PG: Baron Davis, Jason Hart
SG: Cuttino Mobley, Eric Gordon
SF: Al Thornton, Ricky Davis
PF: Marcus Camby, Tim Thomas
C: Chris Kaman, DeAndre Jordan, Brian Skinner
The Clippers got a good look at life without Elton Brand last year. To say it wasn’t very pretty is like saying Britney Spears just went through a little bit of a rough patch or Wall Street is going through a few quirks right now. It was full-on horrible. Much like the high school football team manager the Clippers couldn’t score to save their lives. They defended so well they might as well have been Amish. Their rebounding, long an intimidation point, was as mediocre as a George Lucas sequel. Only their veteran experience and the absolute grotesqueness of the bottom of this conference kept the Clips from the cellar. All year long fans and well-wishers were hoping for Brand’s return, praying for the turn-around when the big guy got back. And now…he’s gone. Is this the end of the Clippers? Are they doomed to another decade of laughingstock status? Will sackcloth and ashes be made the official Clippers jersey?
No way, man. Cue up “Womanizer”. Britney’s making a comeback.
OK, it’s not quite the same. There was a time when the Clippers were considered as possibilities for the NBA Finals just as Spears was once destined to the Hottest Chick of All Time Forever. Those days are gone. (Wait for the Megan Fox comparison, Trail Blazer fans…wait for it.) However the team has all the equipment necessary to make a second productive run, if not quite so amazing as the first. We have the Baron Davis push-up bra to bolster that sagging scoring. We have the Marcus Camby hair extensions to cover up that defensive bald spot in the lane. We have the Ricky Davis…the Ricky Davis… OK, we have a bad case of the Ricky Davis but maybe we can visit a clinic and get that taken care of. But hey, Al Thorton is still young, springy, and exciting so we’ll just make sure every poster and highlight of us features him. It’s not a bad package all put together. Plenty of guys would still take it and be happy. (Quick, Clippers! Show some skin! “Woman-womanizer, Womanizer, Womanizer…”)
Most of all the Clippers still have those veterans. Veterans won’t lose in droves if you have a couple scorers alongside them. Chris Kaman and Camby are a potent, if somewhat odd, duo. Cat Mobley knows how to play off of scoring point guards. Everyone on this team has won at one time or another. They’re not going to be 29th in scoring and field goal percentage again. That alone should be good for 10 more wins. Strong rebounding could add a few more. They’ll need to find some outside shooting and they’ll need to share the ball effectively. They’re not likely to be great, but a run at a low playoff seed is not out of the question, as mediocrity seems about as low as they can go.
Read more about the Clippers at ClipsNation.com.
Record: 38-44, 4th in Pacific Division, 11th in Western Conference
3rd in free throw percentage
4th in free throw attempts per game
29th in assists
26th in blocks
30th in turnovers
8th in the league in scoring (102.5 ppg)
24th in opponent scoring (104.8 ppg)
20th in ppg differential (-2.3 ppg)
10th in field goal %
23rd in opponent field goal %
9th in three-point %
7th in steals
7th in opponent turnovers
Poor offensive rebounding team
Poor defensive rebounding team
Significant Additions: Bobby Jackson, Bobby Brown, Jason Thompson (R), Donte Greene (R)
Significant Subtractions: Ron Artest, Anthony Johnson
Coach: Reggie Theus
PG: Beno Udrih, Bobby Jackson, Bobby Brown
SG: Kevin Martin,
SF: John Salmons, Francisco Garcia, Donte Green
PF: Mikki Moore, Kenny Thomas, Shelden Williams
C: Brad Miller, Spencer Hawes
The Kings are in an odd spot right now. They’re banking heavily on promise and potential, but the ceiling on these players, individually and corporately, doesn’t seem all that high. They get really excited about guys like Beno Udrih, Spencer Hawes, and Quincy Douby, but they’re Beno Udrih, Spencer Hawes, and Quincy Douby. No doubt at least two of those three will be plenty good NBA players, but they’re squarely in the “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” zone. “Yes, Spencer Hawes, of course I think you’re cute. You’re a really nice guy and…ohmygod, it’s Andrew Bynum! Unnngh. Huh? What? No…I mean yes…you are as good looking as him. I’m totally glad I’m going out with you and not someone like that. I’d never be…attracted to…hold this for a minute, I’ll be right back.”
The clear-cut star of this team is Kevin Martin, who’s skinny as a rail but scores like a runaway freight train. He’s the guy everybody will key off of. He’s been messing around with injuries. If he’s healthy, the Kings have a puncher’s chance to win most games. If not, this could get ugly. John Salmons is a somewhat underrated small forward as well. Udrih is still developing and there’s a decent chance he could develop into a 15 and 6 guy at least, if not 18 or more. Brad Miller is still serviceable, but his career seems to be trending downward. I wouldn’t depend on his resurgence to turn this team around. Sum total: one scoring star, a couple of nice role-players, and a point guard in progress.
After that you have a couple of Bobbys, a Quincy, Donte and Francisco, Shelden and Kenny, the aforementioned Spencer, and some dude named Mikki. Sounds like you mixed a progressive jazz group with the audio-visual club. None of these guys are bad, but none jump out at you as game winners.
And that’s the problem right there. Sure the Kings will still score on certain nights. Who’s going to defend? Will they bully rebounds away from opponents? Will they be able to take a game, throttle the juice out of it, bend its remains to their will, and force the other team to go home crying about the biased refs while they, themselves, snicker behind their hands and say, “It was tougher than it looked” into the beat writer’s tape recorder? Not likely. This might be Reggie Theus’ most ragged lineup since he coached the Deering Tornadoes and it’ll probably show.
Read more about the Kings at SacTownRoyalty.com.
Also in the weekend Hornets preview I forgot to mention the amazing AtTheHive.com. Check them out too!