1. Is it possible to make real judgments about DeAndre Jordan’s improvement now or do we have to wait until the regular season?
Dylan Rice-Leary, (@dylearium): The answer is to both questions is yes. DeAndre has had fantastic preseasons before, but it has always been centered around pure athleticism and effort, never with such well-defined parameters in which to operate, nor anywhere near this kind of confidence from his coach. What we can say about him now is that he is indeed capable of stepping up to these new levels of responsibility and expected performance. It is going to take a stretch of regular season games to see if he can truly sustain it.
Seerat Sohi, (@DamianTrillard): Well, any preseason judgements are often assigned an automatic asterisk but it’s not as if the capability D.J. is showing right now will spontaneously disappear once the calendar switches from October to November. For Jordan, defensive success is a matter of focus— not ability. If Doc Rivers understands this, he’ll be sure to take it upon himself to light a consent fire under D.J.. Hopefully, that’ll translate into this kind of outburst from Jordan becoming the norm.
Jacob Frankel, (@jacob_frankel): You can’t judge team strengths and chemistry on preseason games, but you can gain small insight on individual players’ games. Small sample size and the effort of the opponent are the biggest issue, but Jordan’s instincts and intelligence on defense aren’t hugely effected by those two things. That said, Doc Rivers may not be unveiling all the intricacies of his defensive system until the regular season, which could effect how Jordan looks on that end.
2. Should the Clippers sit a banged up Blake Griffin?
Rice-Leary: Not entirely. It is too important for establishing continuity and getting repetitions in the new offensive schemes for Blake to sit out the remainder of preseason. That said, the Clippers need to moderate his minutes until the real season starts, and his teammates ought to be playing him in scrimmages with kid gloves on, even if they are fighting for spots on the roster (I am looking at you, Lou Amundson). For now, I would be happy to see him get twenty minutes a night and to keep getting reps on that ever-improving mid-range game.
Sohi: In the regular season, I’d likely say yes. In the preseason, absolutely they should. It’s important for Blake to get his reps in, but the Clippers have 82 games ahead of them designed for just that. This season, everything up until May is prologue.
Frankel: Yes. It’s the preseason. There’s no upside to him playing, and while the downside might be small, it’s still there.
3. Did Brandon Davies’ three-point show in the fourth quarter Saturday night mean anything?
Rice-Leary: Davies is a BYU alum, and Saturday night’s game against Utah was his first ever NBA related action in front of family and friends in the audience. Players tend to put extra pressure on themselves to perform well in this kind of homecoming, but that can easily backfire by trying to do too much or taking poor shots. It is far too early to tell if this can be a regular occurrence, but it has to be at least somewhat of good sign that Davies shot well under that kind of pressure.
Sohi: Two things: Brandon Davies has the confidence— and at least some resemblance of ability— to shoot from beyond the arc. Second, Doc Rivers isn’t about to tell his players not to take shots they’re supposed to be taking; also apparent in Blake’s seemingly newfound poise in catch-and-shoot situations that Fred pointed out in Thursday’s Last Call.
Frankel: This comes back to the first question a bit. Shooting is something that is a lot more defined by opponents’ effort and the sample size, so I’d hold off judgement on this one. If he can shoot the three well, great, if not, it isn’t a big deal. Either way, Davies isn’t going to be getting a lot of playing time this season.