1. Are the Clippers due for a slow start to the regular season with Matt Barnes, J.J. Redick, Reggie Bullock, and Blake Griffin all missing so many games?
Patrick James, (@patrickmjames): My grandmother and I used to play cribbage, and whenever I’d get off to a good start, she’d say “early ripe, early rot,” and then go on to crush me by game’s end. That’s how last season felt. And the point is I’m happy to wait for these players to get healthy before they take the floor, and see Clippers thrive in spring rather than fall.
Jacob Frankel, (@jacob_frankel): I doubt it will really affect things to much. Small knocks here and there are something that every team has to go through and all of these injuries seem to be in that category. Doc Rivers could be erring on the side of caution and all these guys could be fine. And even if a few of them aren’t ready for the start of the season, the Clippers have enough depth for that not to be a huge factor.
Davis Vo, (@davisv_): Preseason has a funny way of bringing out a lot of DNPs and minor injuries in players on all teams. Call me naive, but I think they would be playing if the team felt it was necessary for its success, but even if they start off slow, who cares? It’s an 82 game season; the team has a lot of time to build chemistry and smooth out any kinks.
2. Do the Clippers need to carry a third point guard on the regular season roster?
James: This is so weird. In 2012, the Clippers had FOUR point guards on their roster (Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups, Mo Williams, Eric Bledsoe), and now they’ll likely have just two. Maalik Wayns’s injury was awful timing for him, because I see the Clippers signing one back-up big man (I like Davies, though it could be Amundson), and keeping one roster spot open for flexibility.
Frankel: They don’t need to have one going into the season. There will always be a Jannero Pargo or Josh Selby (or even the next Patrick Beverley) sitting on the waiver wire around midseason if injuries crop up, so it’s not too big a deal.
Vo: The Clippers should be fine without a ‘real’ 3rd point guard. Of the projected top teams, only the Heat and Pacers carry 2 point guards on their roster. However, similar to both these teams, the Clippers feature versatile players who can competently handle the ball. You can never guess injuries, but it is comforting to know that combined, Collison and Crawford played in approximately 95 percent of possible games in the past four seasons.
3. DeAndre Jordan is averaging 7.3 blocks per 36 minutes through three games. That can totally keep up, right?
James: Clearly we should expect some regression to the mean, but DJ’s rotations, pick-and-roll defense, and weak-side help have been noticeably improved so far – he’s even been staying down on pump fakes. Ultimately, I care less about DJ’s blocks and more about his overall engagement.
Frankel: No, but blocks have become a bit underrated. Doing some rough math…if we multiply every Jordan block by 0.97 (the average points per shot of a two pointer) and 0.45 (the chance the opponents recover the block times their expected output on the ensuing play) we see that Jordan’s blocks stopped 49 potential points last season. That’s more than half a point per game. Blocks matter.
Vo: I don’t own DeAndre Jordan in any fantasy basketball leagues, so I don’t feel inclined to say ‘yes’. Although the block totals may not be sustainable throughout the season (and hey, maybe they are!), the defensive progression and effort is. Under Doc Rivers’ care, Jordan has been active and vocal in games, and that’s a great sign for the Clippers’ championship hopes.