The Kaman piece is huge for this team. It really is. We armchair analysts like to talk about how shooters can stretch the floor. What can a couple of competent big men on either block do? Create a defensive concavity on the floor that requires an opponent to shift everything low. With the exception of the Thomas-Radmanovic swap and Cassell's p.f., the personnel hasn't changed from the postseason squad. The different is that the Clippers haven't been forcing teams into a brutish half-court grind. You know, the kind of game in which the teams combine for five fast break points because so much of the action is occurring below the foul line. The Clippers won last season because they presented a unique challenge to opponents: A bifurcated attack down low [anchored primarily by an eager, confident, quick-releasing Elton Brand] along with unusually physical players on the wing who also use their superior size and strength by posting and drawing contact. Remember those guys?
I'm not suggesting that a home win over a beleaguered Sacramento team is anything to stick in the scrapbook. The Kings have nobody who demands a true double-team, which frees up the Clips to play their offensive unit for long stretches. The Clippers also turned the ball over way, way too much. But what I saw tonight at Staples Center was the closest thing to a facsimile of last year's formula.
Back to Kaman for a sec. He isn't patshking around in the lane after he receives the ball. While I have absolutely no way of knowing for certain, doesn't it seem like the less Kaman deliberates, the cleaner the shot? The other key for Kaman right now, which he achieved tonight is Blocks ≥ Turnovers. Tonight: 3 Blocks, 2 Turnovers. But the ultimate litmus test of Kaman's effectiveness, the factor that will tell you everything you need to know --- is the opponent sending a double-team? Tonight, they did.
The old Clipper defense showed up. Even without Ross, the Clippers --- Mobley and Livingston, really --- held Kevin Martin to a modest 14 points on 3-11 from the floor. I didn't spot too many blown rotations. Most of the brainfarts tonight resulted in Sacramento blow-bys, largely on nifty dives to the basket off of elbow screens and such. [I know he hasn't had much success, but I like Eric Musselman.]
When Corey rebounds, plays off the ball, and doesn't turn it over, he's a phenomenally efficient player. Readers of this here weblog will attest that Clipperblog is not one to overestimate Corey's value. And I'm well aware that Ron Artest showed nothing tonight so it's easy to tilt this hypothetical conveniently in Corey's favor. Having said that, I don't understand what the organization would accomplish by a Maggette-Artest swap. Artest can't shoot the ball from any distance and he's no better a rebounder than Corey. His ability to guard big men would be a nice tool in the shed, but no more useful than a slasher who can manufacture points from the line. Finally, while Corey occasionally pouts, Ron Artest is a congenital sociopath. I have no problem parting with Corey, but not if the Clips can't address their most pressing need.