I’m not really sure how to organize and cover all of the issues, so let’s just dive right in.
Obviously we know that the shooting guard spot going into the season was confusing yet manageable. The Clippers’ highest concentration of talent was (and arguably still is) at the guard positions, yet really we’re only talking about the point guard spot. And due to this glut of points guards, one injury (Chauncey’s, if you hadn’t heard) means that the only player who could effectively defend the shooting guard spot is out. There has been talk about a Caron Butler-Ryan Gomes shooting guard/small forward lineup, but that is neither reasonable offensively nor defensively to my eyes, nor would I guess to too many other reasonable eyes.
Mo Williams more or less has to continue functioning in his same role, which has been part-PG (with Billups or Foye functioning as his SG), part-SG (with Chris Paul running the point). Defensively, Williams as a 2-guard is going to continue to be unbearable. Even worse, Randy Foye (whose defense is among the worst in the NBA in terms of guards) will be taking up those old Chauncey Billups minutes. On the bright side, we can expect the offense to more or less function just as well as it has this entire season.
I’ll throw in some brief commentary about the possibility of a JR Smith acquisition in a month or so — it won’t help that much. He’ll essentially be a more talented yet less controlled version of Randy Foye that plays equally (or perhaps even more) terrible defense at the guard position. Also, JR Smith is crazy. This information should be enough for you readers in Internet Land to infer my opinion on a JR Smith acquisition.
Okay, so we have the gist laid out in terms of the guard rotation and how it will impact the team. But hey, while we’re dealing with an injury to our best guard defender (or wing, for that matter, with Caron Butler disappointing defensively so far this season), let’s throw in this interview that seems to feature some heavy grumbling from Mo Williams, who is currently a very key cog in the Clippers’ excellent offense so far this season.
First and foremost, let me say that I don’t think Mo was given a fair shake at all in this interview, judging by the tone Mr. Simers used throughout the piece (Besides general tone, Simers also described Chauncey Billups as being “much better” than Mo Williams, which to me is simply inaccurate in regards to their respective play this season).
Moving along to the main point of the thing, it is completely reasonable for a player to want an extension so he can stay on with a solid, extremely talented team like the Clippers. Is it also reasonable to question the logic of a player seeming so worried (and possibly disgruntled) when he has a player option for the upcoming season and is the 6th man on a competitive team, and is also getting key minutes with the team’s starters? Yes. Is it reasonable to question a player openly voicing the desire for an extension mid-season when the team is dealing with a key injury and still trying to gel together? Again, the answer is yes. However, Mo Williams is a human being with human worries. He wants to be locked up relatively long-term with a team that has a bright future and also benefit from his excellent season in terms of money (that last one is a presumption, but I think a safe one). In terms of his apparent worries about being traded…I don’t share them. Mo Williams is extremely key as the back-up PG to this team, and despite arguments I’ve heard in favor of Eric Bledsoe recently, I don’t think there’s a chance we see Mo traded. Eric Bledsoe has shown almost no ability so far in his career to perform reliably (and consistently in that reliability) as a point guard for a playoff-type team. Although let it be noted that this does not mean he will never be an effective and reliable NBA point guard.
So anyway, I suppose I came into this thinking I’d talk about the general troubles we’re currently suffering in the backcourt (outside of Chris Paul), and now I realize that this was all fairly predictable.
The defensive impact of playing small/bad defensive guards together? Sure, I could see that coming. The occasional reliance on jumpers causing offensive stagnation? Again, predictable. Injuries? Well, they happen. But in terms of coping with Mo Williams’s role and contract issues, I’m hoping all parties involved are ready to move on. Billups’s injury should settle some playing time concerns (despite hurting the team in terms of success), but no one can predict what Mo Williams’s contract issues will mean going forward.
Beyond that, the Clippers’ backcourt as currently constructed forms a top-heavy, semi-effective unit. Defensively, I (and the blog as a whole) probably have not done a good enough job keying in on how bad the backcourt has been defensively this season.
And yet the Clippers are still on track for the playoffs, and people still seem pretty excited. So there’s your silver lining.