Taking inventory of this season’s Los Angeles Clippers squad isn’t an easy task.
All of the big names have exceeded expectations. The restoration of Baron Davis from a miserable 2008-09 campaign has been impressive, and Chris Kaman has bounced back in spectacular fashion from last season’s foot injury. Second-year guard Eric Gordon continues to progress nicely, while third-year forward Al Thornton has refashioned his game to become a more efficient player. Then there’s 35-year-old Marcus Camby, who is posting some of the best numbers of his career.
These individual improvements have produced a 14-18 record, putting the Clippers on pace for 36 victories, which would almost double their win total from 2008-09.
That’s undeniable progress.
With rookie Blake Griffin scheduled to return before the All-Star break, the Clips might even flirt with the .500 mark, something few prognosticators predicted for the team going into the season.
Yet if you ask loyal Clippers fans how their team is faring, you’re likely to get a response that begins with a long sigh. They’ll tell you how the Clippers have blown leads of 20 points on three separate occasions and how frustrating it is to watch a team that appears to be above-average at almost every position struggle to find shots (the Clippers rank 22nd in offensive efficiency).
Monday night, the Clippers kick off 2010 against a depleted Portland team at Staples Center, then face the Lakers Wednesday in an intra-city showdown. Although the Clippers still have aspirations to qualify for the postseason, the remainder of the season wil focus more on answering some big questions about the future:
- Can the Clippers succeed running their offense through Chris Kaman?
- What kind of impact will Blake Griffin have?
- Do the Clippers deal Marcus Camby before the trading deadline?
- Do the Clippers need to upgrade at the small forward spot?
- Can the Clippers ride their defense to respectability?