Los Angeles Clippers vs. Sacramento Kings
12:30 p.m. PST
April 12, 2014
FOX Prime Ticket
1. Should DeMarcus Cousins make an All-NBA team?
Andy Liu, (@AndyKHLiu): No. I assume that Joakim Noah and Dwight Howard man the first- and second-team slots, leaving the third selection to come from a group of Chris Bosh (assuming he’s voted as such), DeAndre Jordan, Roy Hibbert, Marc Gasol and DeMarcus Cousins. The easy pick is Bosh because of his ability to defend and score from inside and outside. Gasol (too few games played), Hibbert (Indiana’s collapse does him no favors), Jordan (not enough offense) are a notch below. Cousins has actually improved on defense this season but the black hole they call Sacramento has done him zero favors in the eyes of anyone.
Jacob Frankel, (@jacob_frankel): It’s tough, but no. I’ve been beating the drum all year that he’s having a historically great usage/efficiency season, but there are just too many other big men. Defense has long been the knock on Cousins, but most data shows that he’s been a plus defender this season. That might just be because he’s tall though – almost all bigs are positive defenders. When you compare him to other starting centers, he’s below average and the Kings are still terrible on defense.
Aaron Fischman, (@aaronhartf): Without a doubt. Although the Kings’ centerpiece still struggles with turnovers, fouls and a short fuse, he’s surely one of the league’s top three centers. Despite missing 10 games this season, Cousins ranks third in the league with 51 double-doubles. He’s also averaging 22.4 points, 11.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 32.1 minutes of play. Imagine the damage he’d do if 1) Sacramento added shooters around him and 2) he could more often evade foul trouble.
2. True or false: The Clippers should be resting everyone in the final week of the season.
Liu: Yes. The Clippers are three games ahead of the Houston Rockets – who are battling injuries themselves – and three games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder. With Blake Griffin still battling a back injury, it’s perhaps better to limit minutes instead of outright benching players. J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley need to round into game shape and with Jamal Crawford’s return on the horizon, a fully healthy Clipper squad in the postseason remains highly dangerous.
Frankel: True. I might keep playing Redick to get him back into game shape, but I’m heavily in favor of resting Paul, Blake, and Jordan. What’s the downside? I’m not worried about rust on a team run by Chris Paul, and the Clippers seem pretty ensconced in their seed. Even if they do slip to four, I might rather play the Blazers there than the Warriors at three.
Fischman: False. Resting all the primary players sounds better in theory. Rivers should be smart with his best players, and I trust he will, but holding them completely out of games risks the possibility of rust. The best plan would be to allow the usual suspects to move on the court and take some shots against real competition, while resting them much more than normal. They’ll need as fresh legs as possible for the postseason run.
3. Better dunker: Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan?
Liu: Blake Griffin. Big man dunkers are never as exciting unless they possess the type of bounce smaller players can afford when skying over larger defenders. Fortunately, both Jordan and Griffin fit the criteria in not only shaming opponents but climbing the imaginary clouds to do so. Both have had their fair share of highlights: Jordan over Serge Ibaka and Griffin against the entire Golden State Warriors team. But while Jordan dunks on a linear up-and-down motion, Griffin’s inhuman ability to reach another level after the initial jump, seemingly with jet packs on, is what separates him from the rest.
Frankel: Blake. For Jordan, it sometimes just feels too easy. When the quality of the dunks is pretty much the same, I’ll take the smaller guy. I also feel like Griffin tends to hang on the rim a bit longer, which I love.
Fischman: The winner is Blake Griffin, and it’s not particularly close. For me, and I’m assuming most other basketball fans, a nice dunk is much more impressive when it caps off an equally athletic sequence of events preceding it. For instance, when Griffin skies for a rebounds, dribbles coast to coast and jams it or when he spins into an acrobatic dunk like this beauty.