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Know thy enemy: Los Angeles Clippers

Los Angeles ClippersClippers Bear

Last Season: 19-63 (.232, 4th in Pacific Division, 14th in the Western Conference)

Key Additions: Drafted Blake Griffin, traded for Craig Smith, Sebastian Telfair, Rasual Butler.
Key Subtractions: Zach Randolph, Paul Davis, Zach Randolph, Mike Taylor, Fred Jones, Zach Randolph, Zach Randolph, Alex Acker (I kid), Zach Randolph, Zach Randolph, and Zach Randolph.

(Look, it's Clipper Bear-rell! Cue collective groan...)

A Heaven's Gate franchise for nearly their entire existence, 2008-2009 may just have been their Gigli.Or vice versa. Or maybe it was their Meet Dave/Adventures of Pluto Nash. Whatever the cinematic comparison, for LA's other squad it was, even relative to a history fairly riddled with this sort of thing, a total disaster from start to finish. Last summer's triumph of landing Baron Davis immediately went sour for the Clippers when Elton Brand defected to Philadelphia. Davis showed up out of shape, got hurt, shot 37% when he did manage to play, and didn't get along with Mike Dunleavy. Essentially, he brought nothing to the floor except Kate Hudson. Davis was hardly the only problem. Marcus Camby was injured in the preseason. Ricky Davis got hurt, as did Chris Kaman. Jason Williams retired before he ever suited up. Maybe he had a vision?

It all served to kick the jersey maker into overdrive. Over the course of the season, trades- including perhaps the worst swap of the decade, bringing in Randolph and his tailor-made-for-bad-teams game and albatross of a contract- and injuries put 19 different guys in red, white, and blue.

Not exactly a recipe for continuity.

But like Mark McGwire, we're not here to talk about the past.

This season, at least in theory, ought to be different. On paper, where the Clippers often thrive, the potential is there to sneak into the playoffs, thanks to a very effective summer. They won the draft lottery to nab Griffin, then won the cap/team chemistry lottery in finding a sucker/taker for Randolph.Zebo was eventually turned into Smith, who provides great depth in the frontcourt and is one of my favorite mid-rotation guys in the NBA, and Telfair, a nice backup to Davis at the point. Butler was a steal, literally, since the Clippers gave up virtually nothing to get him from New Orleans. Among the holdovers, it's easy to forget that Kaman averaged nearly 16 points and 12.7 reboundsa night in 56 games during the '07-'08 season. If he's healthy, the Clippers have a genuine scoring threat in the post to go along with the defensive presence of Camby and the extremely sturdy Griffin. Baron showed up to camp in good shape, looking to atone for last year's disaster, and with Eric Gordon could comprise one of the better backcourts in the W.C.

All that, and heaps of cap space for next offseason. Call this the Summer of Dunleavy.

MD Sr. says the Clippers will run more this year, which will give Davis the sort of freedom he enjoys and take better advantage of his skills. Kaman ought to thrive in that sort of setup as well (he's goofy, but athletic and can get up and down the floor). More breaks mean fewer jumpers on the wing for Al Thornton, which is definitely a good thing. Putting Gordon in space is smart, too, since he's very difficult to keep out of the lane. 

On the other hand, the threat of injury hangs over this bunch like the ugly spawn of the Sword of Damocles, the other shoe, and global warming. There's still no proof that these parts work together all that well, since they didn't get a chance to play together last year. I'm not sold on the Davis/Dunleavy relationship, despite the pair seeming to make nice over the summer. BD, frankly, has never really meshed with any of his coaches, and Dunleavy can be prickly in his own right. And as Friend of the Blog Eric Pincus pointed out when we were chatting about the team during Media Day, the Clippers aren't filled with ball movers beyond Baron (who himself launches plenty of ill-advised shots). 

For the sake of simplicity, I always write these previews with the idea that teams will be reasonably healthy. Injuries are just too unpredictable to do it any other way... unless you're working with a squad like the LAC, where nearly every important cog in the machine has suffered in recent years. That makes them tough to ignore, though this summer's additions leave the Clippers with far more depth to weather the storm. To me, the key is Kaman. Healthy and productive, he's one of the NBA's best centers, and provides balance to what would otherwise be a very guard heavy attack. He has to stay on the floor. If he's on the floor for 75 games, the Clippers have a shot.

That, and a few other breaks (at this point, they've gotta be due), mean BD, Dunleavy, and Co. have the chance to double last year's win total. More, even. The talent is there to challenge for a playoff spot. In the end, though, I think the Clips fall just short. Still, anything approaching relevance is a positive for this crew. Whether they get there this season or not, they're set up well for the future.

Prediction: I'm an optimistic man by nature, and will give the Clips the benefit of the doubt. 42 wins, 2nd 3rd* in the Pacific, 9th in the Western Conference... although a couple key injuries could see the 2 and the 4 switch places.Would that really shock anyone?

*Update: The original Pacific Division listing of 2nd was a mistake. The intention was to have them third. My apologies for the flub. BK

Previous installments:

BK

 
Comments () | Archives (38)

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I'm going to the pre-season double header on the 17th so I can see the Lakers and also get a look at the re-vamped Clippers. The Clippers should be better than last year by 15 games, the Lakers should win a few more than last year. 68 and 14

"...man, things have changed around here ...feels weird and corporate.
but enough of my preseason moanings! i just wanna announce the annual Unofficial Lakers Blog Fantasty Basketball League!
haven't been around much lately so don't know if one has been already started... but if not, join us.
Only 14 spots* and the returning players have already been sent e-mails, so sign up ASAP.
http://basketball.fantasysports.yahoo.com/league/lakersblog2009
League ID: 203852
Live draft is Sunday, Oct. 25 @ 4:35 p.m. PST**
* can possibly add two more if necessary.
** subject to change to accomodate the majority's schedule
Posted by: CBuck | October 05, 2009 at 09:21 PM

Whoops. Hey, two fantasy leagues is better than none, right?

sorry, cbuck. I really didn't know anybody else was going to do a fantasy team this year. anyway, we got one team going. I would love to join yours too, if you have any spots left. how can I get the password?

I thought you were limiting the previews to NBA teams.

hey, i think i'm gonna root for the clippers to at least do ok this year. and i'm going to try and find a place that will take my money on 'blake griffin will be in another uniform in three years or less'

Even if the injury bug does hit, they're still pretty deep. The one constant though, is Sterling. Good players and bad seasons seem historically joined at the hip when it comes to the Clips. Still, they're always one of the best trainwrecks in the league and of course, I'd like nothing better than a hallway series at some point in my life.

Funny how Lamar went from almost leaving the team to meeting his soul mate at a Laker player party and eventually marrying her--all within a few weeks.


Hmmm. Lets be glad Kobe's leading this team.


Wes

No matter what:

Clippers suck today...Clippers will suck tomorrow...Clippers will suck forever.

ex-
still laughing.
Anna

Who thinks the Clippers can steal our thunder on opening night with a win?

They are going all out to win and spoil our ring ceremony.

Clippers will make the playoffs.

And we will play them in the first round.

I'm sure you guys will explain later, but... 2nd in the Pacific? Better than the Suns with 42 wins? Really?

Clippers are the Bulls of the West. Good in offense and that's it, they forgot to play defense. Let's see if that will change this year. It evens out in salaries, Clippers are paying only 58m with a Coach/Gm at 5m (on installment) while Lakers at 91M plus luxury taxes and PJ at 12M.

Since when are the Clippers accomplished or even improved enough to be considered our enemy?

I agree with Fatty: The Clips will be the eighth seed in the West.

Re Drew

I was curious as to how Drew's and Pau's stats stacked up at the center position (naturally Pau's stats were better than Drew's at the center position; not only that Pau's center stats were better than his own PF stats). While perusing 82games.com, I came across this extremely odd stat: 0% of Drew's shot attempts were tips. This compares to 6% for Howard, 4% each for Shaq and Yao, and 10% for Pau. How is this possible? I would think that Drew would have had at least one tip attempt last season even if it were just accidentally. And what does this say about how hard Drew is working at hitting the boards at the offensive end of the court?

MAMBA 24 & LongTimeLakerLover....

As for those pre-season picks :

This is a free country, and those GM`s have every RIGHT to be WRONG!!!

I think it would be cool to see the Lakers play the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs. Has that happened anywhere? Where two teams who use the same stadium/arena play against each other in a multi-game playoff series? I think that would be awesome.

[Okay, KB Blitz, let me have it.]

Go Clippers!!!

GO LAKERS!!!!

giantsquid,

"While perusing 82games.com, I came across this extremely odd stat: 0% of Drew's shot attempts were tips. This compares to 6% for Howard, 4% each for Shaq and Yao, and 10% for Pau. How is this possible? I would think that Drew would have had at least one tip attempt last season even if it were just accidentally."

Interesting stat. Come to think of it, I am unable to recall a single tip-in by Andrew Bynum. Instead he just slams the dunk. I think this is both good (aggressive) and troublesome (lack of finesse).

Thank God we can finally start watching games instead of just engaging in conjecture.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

Absolutely completely fricken lame.

http://tinyurl.com/y9fz4bm

Dirk Nowinski a better player than Shaq over the last decade? Give me a break.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!!

Shouldn't the title of this blog be "Know Thine Enemy" ? (In King James English thy/thine is analogous to a/an in modern English). Love your blogs though (and your video clips), read this one for the first time.

So the Browns (or should I say the city of Cleveland) trade Braylan Edwards to the Jets. I really like the fact LeBron stuck up for his little buddy and got the punk Edwards kicked out of town. Maybe if Shaq had shown the same big brothermanship to Kobe they'd have won more titles together. I remember Shaq standing in the corner giggling when Chris Childs suckered punched Kobe in NY.


Good job Lebron. You've earned my respect.


And that baseball game last night was one of the best I've ever seen. Amazing back to back sports days for Minnesota.


Wes

W2WF2nite...

1. Will we see the "Big Lineup?"
2. Will Artest focus on being a defensive factor?
3. Who will get the most minutes tonight? Jordan or Shannon?
4. Will "the Beast" re-emerge?
5. Will Sasha play with confidence and be effective?
6. Will AmMo get more than garbage time?

Even though the Lakers played into June, it's been a long summer between then and now. I'm pumped. I'm ready. Here we go. Go Lakers!

MAMBA 24 & LongTimeLakerLover....

As for those pre-season picks :

This is a free country, and those GM`s have every RIGHT to be WRONG!!!

Posted by: RED`S LOVE CHILD | October 06, 2009 at 09:54 PM

You're right....a couple of them picked the Celtics to win it! Those are the guys are exercising their right to be wrong, just like you said!

Seriously sacremento/clippers are not our enemies. You might as well title those "know thy neighbors".

Give the people what they want yo ... you don't have to do all the teams, this ain't espn ... can we get some blazer, celtic, hornets, nuggets, spurs action

I expect the Clippers to be much improved this season... but I expect that every season, and that's never changed anything. So, yeah, there's always the chance of an upset game at Staples, but it's not something I think about. Bigger fish to fry, as they say.

So, now that I've gotten the stay-on-track-with-the-thread thought out of the way...

It's game day! Hells yeah! I can't wait to see what this Laker squad accomplishes this year. I'm looking forward to improved firepower and lock-down defense. Remember how the Lakers started last season? Best defense in the league. I think we'll see it again, all year long.

Let the games begin.

Go Lake Show!

Rick-

Interesting questions, all. Just don't read too much into the answers based on preseason games, particularly on rotation questions.

BK

Good morning Mamba24 & the fabulous Laker morning CRUE!!!

Yup - it's game day. It's finally arrived. We can all breathe a sigh of relief that the summer is finally over and we can get back to that which we hold most dear - watching Laker games, getting on the live chats, and having something concrete to debate about on here instead of the "what if's" and "could be's"!

IT'S GAME DAY!!!! I don't care that it's only pre-season. I don't care that this doesn't "count" in the grand scheme of things (or in the final stats). All I care about is that the boys in the Golden Armor - the Royal Purple & Gold - are taking the court tonight to defend what is rightfully theirs. IT'S GAME DAY and I'm on CLOUD 9 !!!!

Let's go CRUE!! Get your butts in gear! It's time to cheer for your team! Whip out your thongs, your bottles of booze or whatever else you do when you get psyched up to watch the Lake Show - cuz, you know - THEY PLAY TONIGHT!!!


(Disclaimer - unfortunately I have a meeting tonight and will be unable to enjoy the live festivities, but my Tivo will be getting a work-out and I'll watch every last second of the show. I don't care if I won't get any sleep tonight. It will be totally worth it to see how these guys mesh with Thriller. I'm psyched!!!)

Enjoy y'all - this season is going to be one hell of a ride!

Clippers?

You mean little brother?

If he's our enemy, we got problems....

I love this info from a Times story:


"So far in training camp, Morrison has been impressive, doing what he does best.


"He has shot the ball very well," Jackson said. "Liability wise [are his] defense and size at that small forward. . . . [It] still remains an issue perhaps.


"But he's really shown that he can shoot the shots and he's been the best shooter we've had so far in camp."


If we slide Artest to SG when Kobe leave the game, then Morrison can get Sasha's minutes, basically being Kobe's backup.


Kind of. But I love to hear this--that someone is actually shooting the ball well other than Kobe and Fisher.


Wes

"I was curious as to how Drew's and Pau's stats stacked up at the center position (naturally Pau's stats were better than Drew's at the center position; not only that Pau's center stats were better than his own PF stats). While perusing 82games.com, I came across this extremely odd stat: 0% of Drew's shot attempts were tips. This compares to 6% for Howard, 4% each for Shaq and Yao, and 10% for Pau. How is this possible? I would think that Drew would have had at least one tip attempt last season even if it were just accidentally. And what does this say about how hard Drew is working at hitting the boards at the offensive end of the court?"
________________________________________

I don't think it reveals much about his effort. Typically "tip ins" come from a crowd of people around the rim hustling for the ball (otherwise players would probably dunk the ball). I think it comes from Drew being afraid of foul trouble or possibly injuries. Both of his knee injuries happened while in a crowd of people around the rim.

Also, I think he is still learning how to position his body around the basket to avoid being called for a foul. In short the guy gets gun-shy when there are a lot of people in the box and he doesn't have prime position. He is a big body. If he comes in hard and guys start falling down the whistle blows on him.

I really don't see any reason to worry about that. If Andrew can stay healthy the Lakers it will be a boon to the Lakers repeat quest.

Lastly, the Clips will get the final playoff spot in the West and meet the Lakers in the first round. It will be the LA vs. LA match up that should have happened in 2006.


Phred!

Had no clue there was one already, buddy. I enjoyed my summer vacation away from the blog for too long so ... i'm late haha

I'll join yours if you have spots left. But if not, then you and others can always join:

http://basketball.fantasysports.yahoo.com/league/lakersblog2009
Password: jerrybuss
League ID: 203852
---------------------------------------------------
Only 14 spots* and the returning players have already been sent e-mails, so sign up ASAP.
http://basketball.fantasysports.yahoo.com/league/lakersblog2009
League ID: 203852
* can possibly add two more if necessary.
Posted by: CBuck | October 05, 2009 at 09:21 PM

Whoops. Hey, two fantasy leagues is better than none, right?

sorry, cbuck. I really didn't know anybody else was going to do a fantasy team this year. anyway, we got one team going. I would love to join yours too, if you have any spots left. how can I get the password?


Posted by: phred | October 06, 2009 at 04:48 PM

New post.

BK

I like the Clipper bear!

Damacles' sword can not harm you, BK. It's the 'Damocles' one that kills you.

haaby-

Maybe we're talking about different swords? :)

Point taken. Thanks for the pickup.

BK

Segeboy,

I like the "Know Thy Enemy" tradition. It's one of my favorite all year. Sure the Kings and the Clippers aren't really THREATS but they are the enemies of Lakers, and as soon as the Kings return to some level of quality, the historic rivalry will be revived. I'm sure of it.

Anyhow, "Know Thy Enemy" is a key educational tool for a lazy blogger like myself. How else am I going to find out all the essentials for a team like the Bucks or the Bobcats? Quite simply, I wouldn't.

What do we play for? RINGS!!!!

Lakers Today... Lakers Tomorrow... Lakers Forever.

GO LAKERS!!!

BK,
I thought we couldn't use the s-word here!

Lakers suck!! Clips are taking it on opening night

CLIPPER NATION!!

Has anyone noticed that the laker flags have disappeared? I guess we are a bunch of band wagon fans, haha.

Cheers to laker fans..
We are Bandwagon fans today...bandwagon fans tomorrow...bandwagon fans forever...the true mantra


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