Los Angeles Clippers (28-16) @ Indiana Pacers (23-21)
Bankers Life Fieldhouse
4:00 p.m. PST
January 26, 2015
Fox Prime Ticket
1. Hey, while the Clippers are in the spirit of returning to sender, do you think leaving Lance in Indiana could be the only way to revive his career?
Michael Shagrin, (@mshaggy): No, Lance Stephenson could be a productive Clipper. Doc Rivers has shortened his leash alongside his court time so we just don’t know what he can do for this team. That might be justifiable choice if the Clippers had established a successful dynamic on the wing, but there are glaring shortcomings for just about everybody getting minutes at the 2-3–you’ve got a defense-only starter (see: Question 3), a streaky plugin (see: Question 2), an offense-only lifer (see: Jamal Crawford) and a young man with good genes (see: Nepotism). Lance deserves a shot.
Roscoe Whalan (@RoscoeWhalan7): Ha-ha! Any takers? I can only imagine Lance’s hypothetical return to Indiana would be have a similar result to when Theon Greyjoy returned to the Iron Islands. I’m not sure Indiana would be the destination but there’s little doubt Doc’s working the phones to see if there are any takers for Born Ready.
Ben Mesirow (@SemNeb): Lance’s career is so unusual in almost every respect that it’s almost impossible to say what he needs – he was a high school legend with a complicated college recruitment, a second round pick who saw little time his first few seasons, a breakout star for one year in Indiana and a disaster in Charlotte. This season he’s shown flashes of good play – or flashes of fun and interesting play, at least – and though it might be best for Lance if the Clippers gave him the Free Willy treatment in Indiana, I’m still holding out hope that he can carve out some kind of role for himself on the Clippers’ up-and-down bench unit.
2. Wesley Johnson has now played in more wins this season than in other of his previous seasons — and we’re only halfway through! Does Wesley strike you as a guy who plays minutes on a winning team?
Shagrin: Yeah, sure. Why not? He’s fine player who can sometimes step in and do fine basketball things. The problem is when you ask too much of him. Wes can’t create offense for himself. He can’t reliably knock down open shots. And while his individual defense is pretty good, it doesn’t appear that he’s internalized the concept of team defense with its aggressive support and recovery… though you could extend that indictment to most of the roster.
Whalan: This is an insane statistic. Poor guy has played on junk team after junk team. It goes to show though — almost invariably — high draft picks go to bad teams and if the rebuild or infrastructure isn’t there you quickly become dubbed a “loser”. Check out Blake, for example. That being said, Wes is more role player than star. He’s shown me flashes and I want to believe!
Mesirow: I don’t think we can hold the failures of Wes’s previous teams against him – he isn’t really the type of player to put a city on his shoulders. He’s a role player, and despite his sometimes frustrating play I do think he can contribute some quality minutes on a good team. He can knock down enough shots and he has all of the physical tools you could want, and his defense is often adequate and sometimes even pretty good. Considering the Clippers’ recent history with wing players, that’s significant.
3. What’s a metaphor for Luc Mbah-a-Moute’s formidable defense and, *ahem* less than appetizing offense?
Shagrin: Luc is Britain in the early years of WWII. They’re under siege by the Nazis, devoting most of their air power to intercepting German fighter jets. When circumstances allow, those bombers head to Reich territory to do some bombing missions of their own, but only when defensive strategy allows for it… Do I take this game too seriously? Probably.
Whalan: A first date where the car ride is great but then you get to the restaurant and you can’t even. Can you believe this guy took 9.5 shots per game last year? *shudders*
Mesirow: I’m tempted to dig back into an old school RPG for this one, but since there’s food in the question I can’t resist – Mbah a Moute is this Clipper team’s kale. The Prince is tough and rugged, beloved by people who’ve seen him utilized properly but less than ideal when he’s in the wrong situation. I don’t want to speak to his dressing, necessarily, but when the team massages him into the offense the right way he can be just fine, and even when his offense is at its worst, you just have to close your eyes and remember his nutritional value on the other end.