As the regular season approaches, it’s time for the Clippers to start ironing out the rotation. ClipperBlog’s Jovan Buha, Fred Katz and Charlie Widdoes put on their “expert” caps and discuss the Clippers’ rotational outlook before tonight’s game against the Golden State Warriors at Staples Center.
1. Which Clipper has impressed you the most this preseason?
Jovan Buha: DeAndre Jordan. Other Clippers (Matt Barnes, Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe) have impressed thus far, but none as much as Jordan and his much-improved offensive game. He’s scored in double-digits in all but one preseason game, is a terror on the glass and looks to have regained his defensive mojo. Now, if he could only make a free throw…
Fred Katz: Matt Barnes. Barnes has scored at an unusually high rate in his first five Clipper games, but what has been most impressive is his ability to move without the ball. His uncanny knack to be in the right spot will help the Clippers plenty on those broken plays, which happen all too often.
Charlie Widdoes: DeAndre Jordan, by far. He’s been stellar — which they needed in order to offset the disappointment that has been Lamar Odom. Only one game with fewer than eight boards, and that was the game against Denver, in which he went 7-10 from the floor. Get ready for the Year of DeAndre.
2. Come October 31st, who should be the starting shooting guard?
Buha: Anyone but Willie Green. All jokes aside, it’s between Eric Bledsoe and Matt Barnes. Barnes gives L.A. size on the perimeter, rebounding and 3-point shooting, while Bledsoe is the superior defender and facilitator. Since the starting 2-spot is just a stopgap until Chauncey Billups returns and the rotation evens out, I’ll take Barnes. Bledsoe is too raw and turnover prone, and needs to acclimate with the second unit.
Katz: Eric Bledsoe. This question asks, “Do you prefer shooting or defense?” Bledsoe is hardly a spot-up shooter like Willie Green, but playing off the ball could help him to improve his lofty turnover rate. Plus, a team that finished 18th in the NBA in defensive efficiency last season could use the extra help.
Widdoes: Eric Bledsoe, even when you take into consideration his importance as backup point guard and second unit energizer bunny. You don’t always have to start the five best players, but when the alternatives are Willie Green, Matt Barnes and Jamal Crawford, you might as well. Especially when he’s the best defender on the team.
3. True or False: The Clippers’ biggest strength is their depth.
Buha: False. The Clippers’ biggest strength is the superstar duo of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. Look, depth is great. It helps win regular season games and is a good insurance policy in case injury strikes. But it can only get you so far. This is a talent-driven league. If the Clippers make the Western Conference finals (or beyond), it’s because of CP3 and Blake.
Katz: True, sort of. Ultimately, having talent at the end of the bench is a team characteristic only a contrarian would argue is a bad trait, but there is definitely some Icarus Paradox potential with Matt Barnes, Caron Butler, Grant Hill – and maybe Lamar Odom – all essentially sharing the same position.
Widdoes: So, so false. What depth? This is the biggest myth about the Clippers, this year’s version of “they like to play fast.” The first big off the bench might be too big to pick himself up off the bench, and the likely starter at the 2 should be a 10th man on a contender. Some nice pieces on the wings, but nothing near some of the other great benches in the league.