For the 30th time in 34 years the Clippers of Los Angeles (29-53) failed to earn a playoff berth last season. When that type of thing happens ownership loves to blame everyone but ownership. Of course, the problem is with ownership and for the Clippers that comes by the name of Donald Sterling. If there’s a bad move to make or a good one that fate will mess with, then Sterling will make it. This year, the Clippers go for their 31st season where they end up out of the playoff mix.
In the frontcourt, the Clippers will put Chris Kaman (.490 FG%, .000 3PT%, .749 FT%, 9.3 RPG, 1.6 APG, 18.5 PPG) in the starting spot at center. Kaman is a solid low post player who offers an array of shots and looks. He’s also got a very find mid-range jumper. Kaman is a tough rebounder and hard worker. He continues to improve.
Power forward Blake Griffin, who was the first pick overall in the 2009 NBA Draft, missed last season due to damaged knees. That makes 2010-2011 his rookie season. If his knees can stand the wear-and-tear of the long NBA season, the highly athletic Griffin should prove to be a money player. Although he doesn’t have much of an outside shot, he can crash the boards, dominate the inside and cash-in on shots and grab rebbies. What is expected from him are double-double seasons each and every year.
Small forward Ryan Gomes (.447 FG%, .372 3PT%, .825 FT%, 4.6 RPG, 1.6 APG, 10.9 PPG) is know for being a smart player who puts up a very accurate mid-range shot. Undersized, Gomes can have a tough time matching up in the frontcourt. He has good hands but is not a shot blocker.
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Now in his third season with the Clippers, 11-year veteran point guard Barron Davis (.406 FG%, .277 3PT%, .821 FT%, 3.5 RPG, 8.0 APG, 15.3 PPG) is a sound passer and tough defensive player with quick hands. On defense, he is both an able shot blocker and a dexterous ball stealer. Davis has a good shot but often wastes it due to the fact that he takes ill-advised shots from the field. After more than a decade of NBA play, it’s hard to believe that he will change this pattern. He does a good job of using his large size to overpower smaller guards in the post.
From the shooting spot, Eric Gordon (.449 FG%, .371 3PT%, .742 FT%, 2.6 RPG, 3.0 APG, 16.9 PPG), now in his third season, is extremely accurate. He has a sweet three-point shot and is able to draw fouls often. His big weakness is rebounding, while his strength is his outside game.
The Los Angeles Clippers weren’t last in Offensive Efficiency last season but they were close as they came in at 100.9, making them 27th. Baron Davis had the highest PER on the club (17.47). Neither of these stats are overpowering. In terms of Pace Factor, the Clippers came in 15th at 95.0.
On the defensive side of the ball, the team placed 20th at 107.1. One reason for this is a poor showing in forcing dead ball turnovers. They forced just 4.77 per 100 opponent possessions. Only Atlanta was worse. Overall, they placed 25th in opponent turnover rate. The club needs to put more pressure on their opponents.
At the end of last season, after Sterling had humiliated him in numerous ways, the owner fired GM Mike Dunleavy. Assistant GM Neil Olshey was chosen to replace Dunleavy. The new head coach for the Warriors is Vinny Del Negro (82-82). He comes to the Clippers after coaching the Chicago Bulls for two controversial, contentious years. Del Negro is known for running a floor spacing system at Chicago, but that won’t work with this team. Look for Del Negro to post up a lot with this team.
The simple and skinny of having an owner who does not want to spend the cash needed to win and who makes more bad moves than the captain of the Titanic is the franchise becomes very predictable. It really isn’t too tough to know where Golden State will end up—last in the Pacific and 13th or 14th in the Western Conference. It’s impossible to do any better. That is until Sterling, who is less than a sterling owner, sells the team. That could be the best move he could ever make.
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