On paper, the Clippers are so talented this year they should have been far more successful - even given the injuries. There is talk about speeding up the game but with our lineup I think that would just play to our opponent’s strengths. With a healthy group of starters we could do some damage – but there is also a real concern from what I have seen that the team will struggle as our starters have no defined roles and our bench has very little offensive punch. What is the solution? – I think the solution is to play Novak as starting SF and move Thornton off the bench.
Obviously Thornton is a better all round player than Novak. They both have defense vulnerabilities – Novak is a step slow and Thornton forgets his assignments. From what I have seen though, I think Novak is slightly more reliable. He seems to take control of his section in a zone and keep close to his man when Dunleavy calls other plays. He also never rebounds on either end but brings a huge advantage of having a tall guy first back on the missed shot. Next time he plays pay special attention to how many fast breaks the other team completes. It is not his defense that has me intrigued though.
Offensively, Novak has the range on his 3ball that is very valuable when partnered with Gordon and Davis. Has anybody else noticed how much attention he gets on offense? Did Dunleavy notice that Detroit put Prince on Novak much of the game? As a Clipper fan I have made many comments about spacing and our lack of ability to create the kind of spacing that wins games. When you have a big team it makes sense to take it slow and focus on ground & pounding your way to victory. The key to a solid ground & pound offense is spacing. Dunleavy always preaches that his style wins Championships but the reality is that his defensive style combined with solid 3 point shooting and a starter off the bench wins championships – aka San Antonio.
Thornton loves the midrange shot – I don’t think this helps our spacing at all. Better that he moves to the bench to be the spark Ricky never was. He will still get his time, but like Maggette when he does not have the ball he is useless and when he does have the ball you can be sure it is going up. Playing against weaker defenders and being the focal point on offense will play to Thornton’s strengths – off the bench. He is a major talent and will be an all star one day. He is just too good at getting his own shot to start on such a talented team.