Found Objects – 8.17.2011
• Thus far in the ESPN NBA’s top 500 player rankings (as I’m writing this they’re at #384), Willie Warren (#459), Travis Leslie (#457), Trey Thompkins (#451), and Ike Diogu (#392) have been the only Clippers named.
• Eric Pincus of HoopsWorld examines the Western Conference and makes a case for why certain teams may or may not rise to the top of what appears to be a wide-open conference:
Los Angeles Clippers – Through the years the Clippers have had a difficult time putting it all together for any extended multi-year playoff run. Of course they never had a player like Blake Griffin.
Blake missed his initial year with a knee injury but with his sophomore rookie season, he became a sensation.
The team faced injuries early, which led to a 1-13 start. Despite the hole they never really had a chance to climb out of, LA played .500 ball throughout most of the year despite the Baron Davis trade (for Mo Williams) and a wrist injury to Eric Gordon.
Gordon, before he had to sit later in the year, began to break through as the team’s closer. With Portland’s Roy struggling with knee injuries, Eric might have been the West’s second-best shooting guard.
DeAndre Jordan, a restricted free agent, made huge strides as a defender and athletic finisher (albeit almost exclusively at the basket) when Chris Kaman missed most of the year with a foot/ankle injury. While the Clippers have a number of solid pieces with Eric Bledsoe, Randy Foye, Al-Farouq Aminu, Ryan Gomes, Kaman and Williams, they’re still one piece short (ideally at the three).
The team has Kaman to offer as bait but even if they don’t find a suitor, the Clippers own the Minnesota Timberwolves’ 2012 draft pick unprotected. That could turn into a player like Harrison Barnes or another among the top of the class. The Clippers are open to moving the pick if they can get a superstar in return . . . should someone like Chris Paul end up on the trade block. The team also projects to have sizable cap room once the lockout is resolved.
It still all needs to come together for L.A., so while it’s no lock they become a dominant team in the West, there’s no question Griffin has already emerged as one of the best players in the league.
• ClipsNation’s Former Draft Picks and What Happened to Them – 2004 edition.