Chris Kaman - Bad Pre-Season = Great Regular Season?

The Clippers are 3-0 in pre-season, and there have been some incredibly bright spots.  Mike Taylor is looking like the steal of the draft, Eric Gordon went off for 33 last night, Al Thornton looks sharp... and while the wins don't matter, they don't suck either.

There are some potential trouble spots as well.  Newly acquired Marcus Camby, 35 years old and with a long history of injury, has yet to make an appearance in a Clippers uniform.  And 'furry face of the franchise' Baron Davis has played only a single game with his new teammates.  So there's plenty of work to be done.

But the single biggest concern in Clips Nation is the horrific pre-season performance thus far of Chris Kaman.  He's shooting 17% (3 for 18) and has as many turnovers as points (10 of each in 3 games).  After watching Kaman 2.0 last season, the hope around here was that we'd be seeing version 2.0 or better this year.  But at this point it looks like we may have Vista on our hands.  Mr. Flippy is back, missing bunnies right and left (handed). 

Someone commented that they thought Kaman had a poor pre-season last year, and I had the same thought.  So I went back and checked.  Indeed, Kaman missed the first two pre-season games with a sore back, and when he did play, he was quite unimpressive.  (His big problem was foul trouble - he couldn't stay on the floor - but turnovers and the constant shadow of Mr. Flippy were there as well.)  Here's what I wrote about him following the final pre-season game:

And then there's Chris Kaman.  From the lefty hook on the first possession of the game that went in and came back out, I had a bad feeling.  He is among the best in the league at making the move but missing the shot.  The difference between his 53% shooting in 05-06 and 45% in 06-07 is literally one of those shots a night.  One more of those shots stays in, and he's among the league leaders in field goal percentage.  And then there was the cross court pass he threw directly to Mo Evans.  Evans was barely paying attention to the play - he had to catch the ball or risk injury.  That's another bad thing where Kaman could possibly lead the league - brain fart turnovers.  On the plus side, I must say, I was encouraged that Chris tried to dunk three times (he finished one and got hacked on the other two) - see, good things happen when you finish strong.  But he only finished one other move all night.

So as of pre-season a year ago, there was no indication that Kaman 2.0 was on the way.  I'd still rather see him play well in October, don't get me wrong.  But he's a quirky guy, and focus is an issue for him - he may not ever shine in meaningless pre-season games.  To that point - he played in summer league in 2007 - he should have easily dominated that competition, but he didn't.  It doesn't really prove anything, but it fits a pattern.

As was also pointed out in the comments, Chris went off his ADHD meds last season, and in fact revealed that he had been misdiagnosed with ADHD all these years (hat tip to Citizen Clips for the WIN for making an important correction in the comments - Kaman has not taken ADHD medication since High School).  He instead began using neurofeedback techniques last summer to improve his concentration, which he credited with helping his game, and there's no question that his productivity was way up.  Chris and his doctors are pioneering these techniques, so there's no way of knowing the long term effectiveness.  If the therapy was some sort of magic elixir for him, what happens if the magic wears off?  We just don't know.

But for now, just be aware that the 2007 pre-season was absolutely no indication of Kaman's regular season performance and take some small comfort in that.

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