Los Angeles Clippers at San Antonio Spurs
5:30 p.m. PST
January 4, 2013
FOX Prime Ticket
1. Can Darren Collison be an adequate replacement for CP3?
Andrew Han, (@andrewthehan): The operative word here is “adequate.” Collison doesn’t have to resemble Chris Paul, he just needs to provide enough facilitation/production to fill the Paul-sized void. It’s actually something Collison did to reasonable success his rookie year in New Orleans. But the answer is no. I imagine San Antonio will reveal all the reasons why tonight.
Trevor Zickgraf, 48 Minutes of Hell, (@yowhatupT): Adequate? Perhaps. If he can get in the lane and then find Dudley or Crawford camping out, that could become an issue for the Spurs. They’ve really struggled giving up the 3 lately. Also, the transition defense has typically been fine, but Collison’s speed is a little scary.
Davis Vo, (@davisvo): My biggest concern with Collison is his ability to be a court general and consistently control the pace of the game. Collison has had his chance to start on various teams, has put up some very nice stat lines, but never has those translated to actually winning basketball games. I’m hopeful that Collison has learned from those experiences, but replacing CP3 will ultimately have to be a team effort.
2. How does Blake Griffin’s role change in the offense with Paul out?
Han: Back to rookie season Blake Griffin; dump the ball into Griffin and have him make something happen. It won’t be quite that straight-forward, but everything on offense should go through Griffin now. He should be doing his best Marc Gasol impersonation from the high post and act as the de facto playmaker for this team. But for tonight, one night only, he should eviscerate San Antonio’s backline.
Zickgraf: I don’t think it does against the Spurs. He knows they don’t have a big that can stay in front of him so he tends to be really aggressive against the Spurs. I do think San Antonio wins, but I’m expecting a big Blake game.
Vo: You mean Carmelo Anthony, right? Just kidding. Blake Griffin is officially the best player the Clippers have now and will demand the attention of opposing defenses. “Best power forward” conversations have previously been stunted because many of his contemporaries have all been number one options on their teams. Griffin will now have a chance to expand his portfolio and definitively show just how good he really is.
3. If Paul is out three-to-five weeks, what’s the best-case scenario for the Clippers over that stretch? (also state a worst-case scenario.)
Han: Best case scenario is tread water and maintain a .500 record over that stretch. Worst case scenario is to lose every game. Bleak enough? This isn’t an indictment on the team or anything subversive. Take a first team All-NBA player off any team and that’s more or less the adjustment in expectation. That is why they are called superstars.
Zickgraf: Best case I think is playing about .600 ball over this stretch. Blake’s playing really well, Jamal Crawford’s going to shoot them to a couple of wins and I think Collison is a fine fill in short term.
Vo: The best-case scenario is that this is a wonderful learning experience and everybody gains sustainable skills that’ll be useful later in the playoffs. Griffin’s forced growth spurt pushes him to become a superstar, Jordan’s defensive game and even his offensive game improves with more repetitions, and Collison becomes a more consistent guard. Worst case? Facing more injuries because of the increased minutes and energy the Clippers core will have to expend to replace Paul.