Los Angeles Clippers (44-27) vs Denver Nuggets (31-42)
12:30 p.m. PST
March 27, 2016
Fox Prime Ticket
Charlie Yao, Roundball Mining (@CharlieCSY): There’s nothing more exciting than a side out play with seconds on the clock, so I’ll go Redick. Mudiay gets the edge in degree of difficulty for going the full length of the court, but the inbounds pass and the whole play on the Redick make was such a thing of beauty.
J.D. Evans: There are lots of things to consider: Redick’s was a team shot, requiring intelligent play-calling and execution, it was an intentional play; the Clippers were playing an actual NBA team, wins matter to the Clippers. But I don’t care, because Mudiay’s last second heave after he nearly turned the ball over was ridiculously fun, and that’s what really counts.
Roscoe Whalan (@RoscoeWhalan): I agree with you guys, the execution of the Clippers play was marvelous but come on, the Mudiay thing not only was great because it was a genuine heave but also because it was the Sixers, who over the past two season, have found potentially every single possible way to lose.
2. Where do the Nuggets youngsters stack up with other youth movements around the league?
Yao: The Nuggets are in a good starting spot, similar to the Jazz a couple of years ago with at least one solid prospect at every position. It’s taken the Jazz longer than expected to make a serious leap, and the Nuggets could also find themselves stuck on the fringes for the next several years. In terms of raw young talent, teams like the Timberwolves are ahead but the Nuggets are well positioned among the middle-of-the-road teams lacking a star. Denver’s flexibility might be their best asset, with a good mix of veterans, draft picks, and young prospects to use towards bettering the team.
Evans: They’ve got a shot, but they’re a long way behind Utah or Portland. As with Utah, the question is whether their high-upside point guard can reach his potential–as Portland’s back-court has already done. Denver might have Marc Gasol part II; they might also have nothing at all, and Utah already has at least three high level NBA starters. On the other hand, because Denver’s a long way behind Utah they can add solid guys though the draft for a few more years.
Whalan: They’re no Timberwolves but they’ve got some great young pieces who seem to be working out. Mudiay has come a long way in his rookie season and Gary Harris has left his forgettable rookie year behind him to show promise. Nurkic can really play as well. Perhaps best of all is the bevy of assets they have in the bag that give them flexibility moving forward.
3. Jeff Green or Wesley Johnson both now — and looking towards next season?
Yao: I’m not sure either of these guys is a true answer, but Green is the guy I’d want for a team with its sights set on winning it all. A team like the Clippers also has to take chances at getting value finds, but I’m just not sure Wes Johnson counts as one anymore.
Evans: I know they’re both flawed. I know they’re not perfect. But it’s worth remembering that the Clippers’ best 3 for over a decade was Matt Barnes, because Barnes brought something his team-mates didn’t have (charming psychosis on the court), and otherwise fitted in. It doesn’t take time to flash high level skill; it does take time to fit in. If those guys can run to the rim on the break, hit corner threes, and concentrate on D, they’re just what the team needs.
Whalan: Maybe Wes is thinking the same thing: Since Jeff Green arrived in Clipperland Wesley Johnson is shooting 32.5% from the field and a ghastly 25% from deep (on four attempts per game!). Jeff has the ability to take over a few minutes of a game, which makes him a valuable x-factor. Wes, I had hoped, would settle into a serviceable 3-and-D type guy but the consistency just hasn’t been there. This season, it’s Jeff and next season, I’m not so sure.