We have actual basketball to discuss now. Let’s catch up!
Media Day for the 2016-2017 Los Angeles Clippers was Monday:
The Clippers headed back down to Orange County for a week-long training camp at UC Irvine before having an open scrimmage Saturday. Here are some highlights from the week:
- Biggest takeaway from Day 1 is the flux at the SF position. The incumbent is Luc Mbah a Moute, who re-signed with the team after playing a pivotal role in what was the best defensive finish in team history last season (based on points per possession allowed). This time last year, it seemed like Wesley Johnson was going to be a leading candidate to replace Matt Barnes as the new starter, but he wound up starting only nine games last season. Johnson is back in the mix, but Head Coach Doc Rivers is throwing another veteran into the competition, veteran swingman Alan Anderson. It doesn’t sound like Anderson is fully over his myriad injury issues from last year in Washington, but Rivers believes the career 34.5 percent three-point shooter can factor into the first unit: “Alan is a better shooter; Luc is probably a better cutter. Alan is still getting over his injury from last year, so it may take him some time. We’ll see,” Rivers said.
- The second unit for at least part of Day Two featured Austin Rivers, Jamal Crawford, Wesley Johnson, Brandon Bass, and Marreese Speights. With Griffin fully healthy and Mbah a Moute in the starting lineup, that is about where I expected things to fall in place. But it’s early.
- Rebounding is something the Clippers and Doc Rivers continue to emphasize. They were awful on the boards in 2016-2017, and while punting offensive rebounds is generally accepted league-wide, being unproductive on the defensive glass is not. “We want our bigs going to the glass, but you’ve got to be a
good defensive rebounding team, and we have not been,” Rivers said. “We were 29th last year. We didn’t have Blake [Griffin] and we played small a lot, so we get all that. It’s hard. I think the only [championship] team that’s not been in the top-10 in defensive rebounds in 10 or 15 or 20 years,is the Miami (2012 & 2013) team.”
- Apparently, Blake Griffin is going to shoot more threes this year. We’ll see how that goes…
- Coach Big Ticket? Recent retiree, future Hall-of-Famer, and 2008 NBA Champion Kevin Garnett was with the Clippers on Thursday, imparting 21 years of supreme experience while working primarily with Clippers big men Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Doc Rivers coached Garnett in Boston, and while he says that he doesn’t expect Garnett to coach, Rivers has pretty much laid out an open door policy for KG to come through and work with the team whenever he wants: “I just told him to come
around and figure it out…do whatever you want,” Rivers said. “Whatever he does, I’m good with. I do think he can have a very positive impact on us.”
- It was really nice of Garnett to come through and work with Blake Show. After all, this was the previous time Garnett saw Griffin:
- DeAndre Jordan was Doc Rivers’ pet project when Rivers arrived in Los Angeles in 2013, and he saw Jordan as a player that could have a Garnett-like impact on defense. Three years later, Jordan is a First-Team All-NBA center, a First-Team defender, and an Olympic Gold Medalist. Naturally, the transition for Jordan is to be a different kind of leader, and Garnett’s presence is further encouragement. “USA Basketball was really great for me this summer, just learning a lot of things from great players and coaches,” Jordan said. “Just been trying to expand my game as much as possible. The leadership aspect of USA Basketball has really helped me out a lot.”
- One of my favorite training camp assessments comes from Austin Rivers on new teammate Speights: “You know he wants to shoot. He doesn’t have all the post-up but he has the face-up and that’s where it’s interesting, playing with him. He wants to score, Mo wants to score… that’s Mo Buckets man. It’s not Mo Defense, it’s Mo Buckets for sure, he wants buckets. And he was getting them today.”
- Assistant coach Mike Woodson coached the starters squad: Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Luc Mbah a Moute, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan with Xavier Munford, Alan Anderson, Dorell Wright, and Diamond Stone.
- Assistant coach Sam Cassell coached the second unit squad: Austin Rivers, Jamal Crawford, Wesley Johnson, Brandon Bass, Marreese Speights with Raymond Felton, Paul Pierce, and Brice Johnson.
- Again, it’s early, but it sounds like the chemistry and fitness level of this team is arguably the best of any of Doc Rivers’ teams in L.A. But Rivers acknowledged that he hopes to be saying that a month from now and beyond.
- This is also a healthy team. Rivers said that Griffin didn’t take any time off, and that Anderson was healthy despite taking Thursday off as a precaution.
- Also there’s proof of Griffin’s health:
— Clippers Social (@ClippersSocial) October 1, 2016
And that ends the week for the Clippers. The Clippers preseason starts on Tuesday in Golden State, and the Clippers will host the Toronto Raptors at STAPLES Center Wednesday. We leave you with rookies dancing: