A couple days ago, we put out a call for the MMB community's questions about the Clippers, to try something a little different with our Q&A format for the tonight's rematch. So, here we are for round two: Steve Perrin again stops by to provide some insight on the Clippers as they get set to clash against the Mavs again!
A little editorial note: Steve told me I could cut out any questions/answers that merited a snarky response, so his response to Mark's question below is NOT intended to start a fight. So be nice y'all. I know we can all give and take in good fun here at MMB.
Thanks again Steve!
And be sure to head over to Clips Nation for my and Kirk's responses to the Clips Nation's folks' questions.
Tim Cato: Does J.J. Redick have any limitations since returning from his injury?
Steve: J.J. started and scored 19 points in 23 minutes against the Lakers. That was in three quarters because, well, you know. Since the injury was to his hand/wrist, he was able to get in plenty of running during his five six week absence and as far as I know there are no restrictions. If he's healthy enough to shoot one jumper, he's healthy enough to shoot 20.
mtobo: How is the Darren Collison as starter experience going?
Steve: Well, let's see, Collison is averaging 17 points and 5.6 assists and 60% shooting (58% from beyond the arc) in five starts this season (the last four games and one when CP3 had a sore hamstring at the end of November) and the Clippers are 4-1 in those games. So I'm going to say, "Not bad." Obviously I'd prefer it if he were shooting 70% from the field, but I guess 60% is OK too.
Look, it's a small N -- and he won't remain red hot the entire time Paul is hurt. But Collison has been at his best this season when he's been aggressive, and with Paul out he's had a chance to really stretch his legs. He was really terrible at the beginning of the season and I was pretty concerned that he wasn't going to help the Clippers much. But it would be tough to ask for more than he's done filling in for Paul.
mtobo: Do the Clippers have any interest in bringing in Bynum to add to the most unlikable sports personalities ever assembled on one team?
Steve: Wow. Really? This is the way you ask a question?
I suppose you are referring to Griffin and Paul on the unlikable thing, and I KNOW you are referring to your opinion and not any sort of empirical definition of likability. Because I'm pretty sure that Kia and State Farm have better access to Q scores and other empirical measures of likability than you do, and they've chosen to build national ad campaigns around these guys, so I'm guessing that in fact Paul and Griffin are in fact among the most likable sports personalities in the NBA -- you know, speaking strictly from a data-driven standpoint that takes into consideration factors beyond your douchey opinion.
On to your question though: the Clippers certainly have an interest in Bynum. This is a team that has aspirations of advancing deep into the postseason, but at present the first big off the bench is either Antawn Jamison or Ryan Hollins or Byron Mullens -- which is a glaring weakness in the roster. The Clippers are being very coy at this point about Bynum -- possibly because they truly are spooked by his character issues and his seeming lack of enthusiasm for the game right now, or possibly just to keep the market for him cool. The Clippers have nothing by the vet's min to offer, so if money is the number one factor for Bynum then the Clippers aren't in the discussion. If he sits on the market for awhile and has to settle for the vet's min, the Clippers are probably his best option -- though it's not clear they would want him even then.
From my perspective he's worth the risk. The Clippers need a big, and there aren't going to be anymore 2012 All Stars available for the min between now and the playoffs. If he doesn't toe the line, you cut him and move on, but on the off chance that he will actually focus on basketball again, he could actually make a huge difference for this team.
Knosh: How would the fanbase react to a Griffin for Melo trade? Do you think it makes sense from a basketball perspective?
Steve: I've addressed this question pretty extensively in a couple of places, here and here.Griffin for Melo is a bad idea on a lot of levels. Melo makes more, is older, and is a free agent thos summer, while Griffin is signed for four more seasons while also improving by leaps and bounds. The trade is a non-starter for those reasons at least, but also because Griffin is a hero to Clippers fans, the face of the renaissance of the franchise (or since the Clippers were never good at any point in the past, I guess it would be more of a naissance than a renaissance).
BUT, sure, there's merit to the idea in a basketball vacuum. The real question would be how would Carmelo react to being second fiddle to Chris Paul -- something he's never done in the NBA. He has done it in Team USA play, and honestly, I've never been more impressed with Melo than when he has played Olympic hoops. As a catch-and-shoot designated scorer, he's a beast. As a high usage, ball-stopping chucker, not so much.
DeAndre Jordan and Griffin are loads of fun in the way they provide highlight reel dunks every night, but they're not what you would call complementary players to one another. Anthony would be able to spread the floor and provide a volume scorer for the Paul distribution co.
All other things being equal (ignoring money, age, the fanbase, and the future), I could make a case for Anthony over Griffin. But of course all other things are not equal.
anthony.d.anderson2: Do you think the team as constructed will ever win a championship?
Steve: Aren't those kind of two different concepts? "As constructed" pretty much means right now, whereas "ever" means, well, ever. Do I think the 15 guys on the Clippers roster today can win a championship (this is assuming a healthy Chris Paul obviously)? I wouldn't bet money on them against the Spurs or the Heat this May or June, but I think they'd have a puncher's chance. This is a very good team right now; but probably not good enough.
But within the current Paul/Griffin window, I'd give the Clippers as good a chance as almost any team in the league. There is no fool-proof long term plan in the NBA. The best one we've seen so far is three superstars in their prime in a desirable market, a plan which Miami has ridden to three straight Finals and two Titles so far. The next best is two superstars in their prime in a desirable market. The Clippers have Paul and Griffin signed for four more seasons and appear willing to spend up to the luxury tax, and even a bit over at this point. We'll see what happens in the postseason this year, and then the Clippers will start to tweak the pieces around the edges going forward. This core group can certainly win a title if things go right.
anthony.d.anderson2: We saw from Carlisle what a coach can do to a team, what has Doc done/changed since his arrival? It seems they're playing about the same pace they were under Vinny.
Steve: Actually they are in fact playing much faster under Doc: in CP3's first season in LA the Clippers were 27th in the league in pace, last year they were 19th: under Doc they are seventh so far. That's a direct reflection of Doc's cred with his star point guard. Paul is a bit of a control freak and given his druthers, he'd choose to walk the ball up the court every time. With arguably the two most athletic bigs in the league, it's long been obvious that the Clippers should push the tempo -- but Vinny Del Negro could tell CP3 to run until he was blue in the face, and Paul was just going to do what he thought was best. When Doc screams "RUN", Paul actually runs.
The defense is a very different story as well. At the start of the season, while the players were still working on fully grasping the new defensive schemes, the Clippers were among the worst defensive teams in the league. The question at that point was whether they could ever be even an above average defensive team.
Today they are seventh in the league in defensive efficiency, and they are second overall since late November when things began to click. The story of the Clippers being among the worst defenses in the NBA was widely reported in the first dozen games; the fact that they've been the second best defense in the last 25 games has gone completely under the radar.
XtremeReindeer: Will Blake have a more successful career than Dirk?
Look, I think Griffin is terrific and I defend him constantly against the "just a dunker" fallacy; he's actually an incredibly skilled power forward, with the handle of a point guard and a deft passing touch, who also happens to put guys on posters with regularity (did you see what he did to Kris Humphries last week?). But Dirk is going to pass 26,000 career points in a couple of weeks and is 13th on the all time list. He's got a legitimate shot to be the sixth person in NBA history to score 30,000 career points. Anyone who thinks Griffin is going to touch that for his career is delusional.
Not to mention that Dirk is a shooter first and foremost, while Blake's biggest advantage against other fours is his athleticism. Griffin is still improving and hasn't come close to his ceiling yet, but there's just no way he ages like Nowitzki has. Dirk will be able to do Dirk-like things until he's 40; Griffin's going to have to adapt his game significantly by the time he turns 30. He's a diligent worker and he'll adjust and continue to be effective -- but even I'll be surprised if he can be elite into his 30s.
nickswarriors16: Have they noticed an improvement in the low-post defense of the Jordan/Blake tandem?
Steve: Yes, to the naked eye both Jordan and Griffin have made significant strides this season. The defensive efficiency numbers over the last 25 games I alluded to earlier would bear that out as well. They both have plenty of room for growth, but they're focusing more on defense, and have had fewer lapses this season than in year's past. Rivers continually refers to how they can be elite defenders, pumping up Jordan in particular. It's clearly a strategy to build DJ's confidence and keep him engaged and excited on defense, and so far it's working like a charm.