“If you can shoot a wrench, you can shoot a ball!”
What a perfect signing. The Clippers needed someone who could guard on the wing and run in transition. They needed someone long. Not someone kind of long, but someone exceedingly long. We’re talking the type of long that makes Jay Bilas jump out of his seat on draft night and force college-student viewers to shoot an ounce of whiskey down their throats. That’s why the Clippers’ biggest offseason move might have been going out and getting the 6-foot-5 Vince Vaughn…err, the 6-foot-8 Grant Hill.
We know what Vaughn’s Dodgeball character Peter La Fleur and Hill have in common. They’re both leaders with huge reaches, quick feet and they always know where to be on the court.
The Clippers needed that leadership last season and most importantly, they needed help on the wing. The two teams atop the Western Conference in the upcoming season will both have superstar wing players. The sequel to last year needs some answer to combat that. Kevin Durant leads the young, agile and only improving squad of Girl Scout Troupe 17. Then of course, there is the cross-town rival: Globo-Gym.
White Goodman (Ben Stiller/Kobe) was already manning a superior Globo-Gym team across town. He might have an ego, but ever since entering the league 16 years ago, all he cares about is winning. That’s why he went out and got some of the best help he could in the offseason. This year, Globo-Gym will be even more stacked, with Lazer coming over from Phoenix and Blazer showing his loyalty to the Orlando area by forcing his way onto the Globo-Gym squad.
Last season’s Clips needed someone to match up with players like White, one-on-one on the defensive side. The 2011-12 Clipper wings were relatively ineffective guarding offensive-minded perimeter players. They needed someone defensive-minded, and now they’ve got him.
Of course, Average Joe’s wasn’t the same with just Peter La Fleur at the helm. Just like White Goodman, he needed help and he got it. That’s why Le Fleur has his partner in crime, Caron Butler playing the role of Gordon (the confidence-riddled former Office Space stapler obsessor) and Eric Bledsoe fitting into the sparkplug/natural talent role of Kate (Christine Taylor).
Last season, Butler forced himself to play like Gordon circa “Seeing-His-Wife-In-the-Stands-with-Another-Man” mode. He was the only true small forward on the roster not named Bobby Simmons, and that meant Nick Young and Randy Foye often had to move out of position and slide down to play the three. With Hill donning a Clippers uniform, Butler doesn’t have to be “Tuff Juice” for 82 games plus the playoffs. He can pace himself.
Butler and Hill’s styles actually complement each other quite well, which is probably the most important part of a platoon. Butler is a half-court player and a spot-up shooter from three. In the original movie, he was forced to guard elite offensive wings for more minutes than he probably should have, but that was situational. The Clippers didn’t have anyone else to guard those guys. Enter Hill.
Hill is a terrific perimeter defender, and though he isn’t a three-point shooter, he is a remarkably efficient scorer. He is elite on the long two-point shot, knocking down 49 percent of his attempts from 16-to-23 feet last season. Meanwhile, unlike Butler, he is superb in transition. But once again, Average Joe’s couldn’t have won without Kate.
Kate is the relatively inexperienced one. She’s small. She’s a fighter. She plays hard. She’s sassy. And most importantly, she fits perfectly into the stereotypical role of “the sparkplug”. Imagine Average Joe’s going an entire season with Kate typically playing in only a quarter of each game. That was what the first movie was like for Eric Bledsoe. The plans need to change for the sequel.
Bledsoe has to get more playing time in the upcoming season, right? He just has to. If not, start writing your complaint letters now because we need to find a way to get him consistently on the floor. He’s an athlete, an energizer and most importantly, he plays defense, which is exactly what the Clippers need.
Defense was a problem last season, but imagine some of the lineups Los Angeles could run out in the upcoming year. Think about Paul, Bledsoe, Hill, Lamar Odom and DeAndre Jordan all out on the court at the same time. That’s a legitimate defensive lineup that could also provide scoring, a luxury that the first Sterling Productions film didn’t have.
This sequel team is going to be different. They actually have wing defenders, filling a huge hole from last season’s team. With Justin Long as captain of the Clippers Spirit Dance Team and Vinny Del Negro constantly bulleting wrenches at Ryan Hollins, this second movie could be even better than the original in ClipperLand.
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