Los Angeles Clippers vs. Golden State Warriors
March 12, 2014
FOX Prime Ticket
1. You’re starting a franchise tomorrow. Do you take Blake Griffin or Stephen Curry?
Kevin Draper, TheDissNBA, (@kevinmdraper): Blake Griffin. The NBA is currently awash in point-guard depth. The 20th-best 1-guard in the league is somebody like Deron Williams, Kemba Walker or Jeremy Lin, who are all pretty good. The 20th-best power forward in the league is somebody like Tristan Thompson or Brandon Bass…who are not as good. It’s simply much easier to find a quality point guard to pair with Blake Griffin than it is to find a quality power forward to pair with Stephen Curry.
Jack Winter, Warriors World, (@ArmstrongWinter): Griffin. Curry’s peerless skill set somehow remains underrated as it is astonishing, but I’ve been a tireless proponent and defender of Griffin for years. That Blake has reached a level where the consensus is forced to admit his brilliance makes choosing between he and Steph – each of whom deserve third-place MVP votes, by the way – a relatively easy call. And think on this: Outside of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Anthony Davis, is there a player in the league you’d undoubtedly choose before Griffin to start a franchise?
Luke Laubhan, (@LukeLaubhan): Three months ago, I would’ve said Curry. But Blake is just a different sort of player now. At 24, in his fourth season, Griffin’s averaging 24.4 points, 9.6 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1.1 steals, while shooting 53.9 percent from the field and posting a 23.9 PER. At 25, in his fifth season, Curry’s averaging 23.5 points, 4.4 boards, 8.7 assists, 1.6 steals and 46.1 percent on field goals with a 23.2 PER. They’re close, but Blake’s newly unleashed playmaking, Curry’s balky ankles, and Blake being a year younger seal the deal.
2. The Warriors have so many shooters. Why isn’t their offense better?
Draper: That’s the million dollar question isn’t it? I think it is because of a combination of factors, the most important being that two of the Warriors’ starters (Andrew Bogut and Andre Iguodala) aren’t really threats, and another (David Lee) can’t shoot three pointers. They also run mind-boggling plays, with an extremely heavy reliance on isos for players like Jermaine O’Neal and Harrison Barnes, and despite having two of the best three-point shooters in the league, they’re only ninth in three-point rate. Mismatched offensive personnel, bad play calling and poor shot decisions.
Winter: Golden State’s offense suffers from an absolutely mind-numbing addiction to exploiting the so-called “mismatch.” The Warriors routinely abandon ball movement and continuity in favor of post-ups and isolations that Mark Jackson identifies as winning propositions due to perceived physical advantages. It’s the worst. More troubling? The possibility that Golden State’s offensive talent-level is simply lower than the majority assumes.
Laubhan: Well, they’re not exactly atrocious: 12th in the league in offensive efficiency (104.5 points per 100 possessions) and eighth in assist ratio (17.3). But it’s also a bit of a misconception that Golden State’s roster consists solely of deadeye gunners. Curry is great, obviously, but he’s 59th in field-goal percentage, one spot ahead of Chris Paul, 11 spots behind Darren Collison. Klay Thompson is 90th in the league (43.5 percent), and after that it, falls off for Golden State. Maybe they are what they are.
3. True or false: Golden State is the toughest potential first-round playoff matchup for the Clippers.
Draper: True. The Warriors can cross-match Bogut on Griffin and Lee on Jordan whenever they want, as well as throw Draymond Green (a severely underrated defender) at him, while Iguodala and Klay Thompson take turns on Chris Paul. In the words of Ethan Sherwood Strauss, Lee is a sneaky dirty player, and I’d throw Bogut and Green into the mix, and those qualities really seem to annoy the Clippers and have the potential to make them lose their heads, like when Griffin was ejected against the Warriors on Christmas Day. I’d expect a matchup between these two to be just like the playoff matchups with the Memphis Grizzlies over the past couple of years: long, drawn out, physical and nearly even.
Winter: False. The Clippers don’t fear the Warriors. Can the same be said of the Grizzlies?
Laubhan: The toughest matchup is either Golden State or Memphis, and I’m going with the latter. The only foil Blake Griffin hasn’t truly dispatched this season is the Grizzlies’ tenacious frontline, the Grindhouse is the Grindhouse, and, instead of respect or awe, the Clippers inspire disdain and full-on hostile excellence from Memphis. In that sense, the Warriors are similar, lesser versions of the Grizzlies. Pray to the seeding gods accordingly.