Around the League: Los Angeles Clippers

Eric in Madison came up with the fantastic idea to do an around the league featurette on Canis Hoopus, giving posters here the opportunity to do write-ups on other teams toils in the NBA. Before we move on, I must admit two things. One, I have only seen four full clippers games this season (no prizes for guessing which games those were), and two, I am by no means fond of this Clippers team. Keep in mind that I can be rather opinionated, and I welcome people to argue with my point of view. Onwards!















Los Angeles Clippers*








V. Del Negro (39-24)



Buffalo Braves*








Lost Eastern Conference Semifinals

J. Ramsay (49-33)



Los Angeles Clippers*








Lost Western Conference Semifinals

M. Dunleavy (47-35)



Buffalo Braves*








Lost Eastern Conference Semifinals

J. Ramsay (46-36)



Los Angeles Clippers*








Lost Western Conference First Round

M. Schuler (21-24), M. Calvin (1-1), L. Brown (23-12)

Unless this Clippers team completely flubs their last three games, they will end the regular season with the best record percentage in franchise history. The last time they were this good they were the "Braves" and ended up losing in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Clippers currently sit at 4th in the Western Conference standings and are sure to be getting ready for what promises to be a very exciting first round matchup against the Memphis Grizzlies (my pick, the Grizzlies in 6 games).

There is no doubt at all that this Clippers team is a better team than last year. They have improved their record from last year by more than 50% and are a tough win for any team in the NBA. They boast some big results this year, including huge wins against powerhouses such as the Miami Heat, the LA Lakers (their new big rival), the Oklahoma City Thunder (who they've beaten thrice) and the San Antonio Spurs. Self esteem booster : the Timberwolves are one of only two teams to beat the Clippers thrice this year (If you can pick the other team without doing a sneaky search, then I owe you a congratulatory handshake).

The reason for this big improvement? None other than Chris Paul. Acquired in the blockbuster Lob City! trade this preseason he has single-handedly transformed this Clippers team into a bona fide Western Conference Juggernaut. His per 36 stats are very good (19.2pts, 8.9asts, 2.4stls) and when you couple that with his true shooting percentage (.577%) you can see why his win shares per 48 is soaring at a bonkers .270. But it doesn't take a statistician to see his impact on the hardwood. Cast a basketball eye over him when he is playing and you see a man who assumes the role of maestro. He orchestrates his team in sublime fashion, and tends to always be a few steps ahead of the opposition. Add in the ability to step up his game when his team needs it, and you can see why he is the undisputed king of the point.

Who can forget this clip. "Do you want your power forward to be exciting?"

Ima take your "exciting" and raise you with some "great basketball." Eat that Shaq.

It would be negligent to write an article about the Los Angeles Clippers without mentioning Mr. Highlight Reel himself, Blake Griffin. Now, I'm going to get to his stats in a second, but first I've got a rant I've got to get off my back.

There is no rejecting the fact that Griffin is a phenomenal athlete. His ability to leap and soar in the air with power, and at times grace, is something that I aspire to be able to even partially emulate at some point. Last season I really enjoyed his dunks and seeing his highlights on Sportscentre. However, this year I have reached the point where I am thoroughly sick of him. He's thrown some amazing dunks our way this season, which have arguably exceeded the glorious heights of last year. What irritates me is his attempts post-dunk to go out of his way to humiliate the dunkee. First there's the stare for an agonizingly long period, where DeAndre Jordan does something completely out of place, and BG32 does his best to denigrate his victim with his penetrating monkey stare. He follows this up with a walk to half court, where he proceeds to prance around like a show pony whilst the commentators ruin their pants over numerous angles of the same dunk. Okay fine, that's cool Blake, but when you decide to dunk on somebody, then proceed to rub it in their face, you abandon your right to complain when you get that nice little target on your back. You no longer are allowed to appear all innocent when Kendrick Perkins pushes you when you rise up for a dunk, DeShawn Stevenson shoulder charges you on a layup attempt, or Jason Smith decides to further muddy the professionalism of New Orleans sports teams by taking you out. You rescinded that privilege. Just you wait, Pau Gasol is next in line. And in my mind, he's justified in whatever hard fouls he sends your way.

I'd be remiss if I left it there on Griffin, it's now time to analyse his game this year. Clippers fans were hoping he would take the next big step this year, so the question is, has he improved his game? In short, the answer is no. His field goal percentage is slightly improved this year (.539) over last year (.506). His improvement from the field is negated by atrocious free throw shooting (.517) which has dropped astronomically from last year. It's got to the point now where teams are thinking about adopting hack-a-blake late in games (maybe that's why Shaq likes him). If Blake Griffin wants to take the step from good power forward to elite power forward then he needs to fix his free throw shooting. His post game, whilst not bad, could also do with some work. And for someone with the athletic ability he has, he should really be blocking more shots, nabbing more steals, and showing more hustle. I tend to think he's going to end up as the type of player who is happy with the gifts he's got (elite athleticism) and is not going to work his ass to the bone to improve his game. I'd love him to prove me wrong, but that's just my hunch.

So what does this mean for the future of the Clippers? Obviously, they've got the playoffs coming up, and nobody ever really knows what could happen in that regard. The next biggest thing after that is Chris Paul's player option. He has said he will stick with the Clippers next season and pick up the option, and whilst he seems like a trustworthy dude, everybody lies, and NBA players are definitely not the exception. I don't expect Vinny Del Negro to be the LAC coach in the long term, he hasn't done a bad job per se, but appears to be out of his depth at times (as witnessed every time Adelman outfoxed him). Give this team a good quality wing player (where have we heard that before) and a more experienced head coach and all of a sudden you may very well have a championship contender on your hands. For the time being however, this Clippers team appears to be poised on the precipice of elitism, it's only a question of which way they will fall.

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