Mo' Mardy Monday?
How awesome was Mardy in tonight's game? I don't know what his stat line was but I still believe the Clips are better with Mardy playing around 15-25 minutes a game.
People blasted me last year when I thought Mardy should start or get more pt so I am glad a win tonight coincided with him getting some meaningful minutes on the court.
Mardy is not flashy. He is not impressive or entertaining to watch. But what he provides is so important. He's a small forward with point guard ball handling skills. Not as talented as a SJax or anywhere near Bron, but he can give opposing teams a different look as he brings the ball up the court and sets up the half court offense from above the key.
It didn't work well tonight against Denver but it may have just been different enough to keep the Nuggets out of sync.
When Mardy is sharp you'll see him make solid post entry passes. This can allow Baron to post up smaller guards. Baron's paint area play has improved drastically from last season and this may be more of an option as the season goes on.
So hopefully Dunleavy has seen the light and will use Gordon, Butler and Thornton in the wing position, but use Mardy to back them up first, before Ricky D. As Rasual and Al start heating up, Mardy can become more and more valuable as a facilitator and stabilizer.
Al Thornton Rounding Into Form
For the most part, I have not liked Al Thornton's game. Until now, whether out of necessity or lack of experience playing organized bball, Al has been inconsistently spectacular and dreadful - sometimes both in the span of seconds.
His reputation of being a black hole and clock drainer has pretty much been the only thing consistent about him - until now.
Within the last two weeks I have seen Al adjust his game and even moreso his decision making in a very positive way.
The old Al would jab step for 10 seconds and then throw up a low percentage shot or make some horrible pass that would get picked off. Even if he got it to someone like poor Fred Jones, there would only be a couple of seconds left on the clock for sucker teammate to throw up a prayer.
The old Al would go up for layups, softer than a twinkie, and get everything blocked. I remember thinking I'd never seen such an athletic guy, 6'8" tall get so many of his shots blocked. He was a horrible finisher around the rim. So frustrating. I would constantly scream at him and Kaman to just dunk it. How many of their shots rolled off the rim last year? Yikes.
Al supposedly came in to camp overweight and out of shape. They might sound like one problem, but they are indeed two things that needed to be improved. At the start of the season, Al looked earthbound, slow and LOST. It was obvious that his mind was writing checks his body could not cash. He didn't seem to have strength to hold his position and he was too heavy for his frame to jump anywhere near where he needed to be competitive.
BUT NOW, are we seeing AT 2.0?
He looks a bit trimmer, but the real difference is not that he is scoring again, but in the way that he is scoring.
Previously in his career, his points mostly came from jump shots.
AT version 2.0 is now finishing at the rim more consistently, attacking the basket and getting to the free throw line. Tonight, he actually slashed to the basket and jumped up for a dunk before anyone could block or foul him. Awesome.
When he first joined the Clips, I was hoping he could be a better version of Corey. It finally seems like it might happen.
Attributes of My Favorite Clipper Team
Elton Brand - Solid Rebounder, Shot Blocker, Unstoppable Consistent Midrange Jumper
Chris Kaman - Low Post Back to the Basket Player, Ambidextrous Hook Shots, Rebounder, Shot Blocker
Corey Magette - Score First, Drive to the Basket, Put Opponents in Foul Trouble, Score at the Line
Cuttino Mobley - Timely 3 Point Threat, Excellent Defender, Beautiful Mid Range Shot, Quick
Sam Cassell - Trash Talking, 4th Quarter Dagger Shooter, Pump Faking Foul Drawing Veteran
Can this year's team become more like them?
Blake Griffin - Has the potential to be better than Brand, albeit in a different way
Chris Kaman - Has now added the fairly consistent short range shot that Brand had to his game. Awesome.
Al Thornton - Got to the line 8 times tonight, (tied with Kaman for most FTAs) Is starting to attack the basket and finish
Eric Gordon - I think his play has been on par with Cuttino's and he has much more potential because of his youth
Baron Davis - This is where I find a drop off from Cassell. BD is definitely more athletic and explosive. But I would rather have that trash talkin, swagger generator.
Every good team needs some swagger. They need a good amount of pride to kick in that extra effort that's needed when your top guns are having a bad night or the other team is on fire.
This was one of the main reasons I was ok with the idea of the Clips trading for SJax. I know he's been problematic but even the Lakers took a chance on Artest. I thought SJax might help bring that toughness and swagger the Warriors had in their playoff run vs.Dallas & Utah.
But if this roster is set for the season, I hope Baron keeps asserting himself more and more (as he has been) and turns into that Sam Cassell-ish swagger maker. He's not going to morph into a talker but I am starting to see some attitude in the fourth when he makes needed shots - great for team morale.
in fact I'm glad he's been taking the bailout shots in the 4th quarter, even though he's been airballing quite a few. All it takes is one timely three to make all those misses go away.
In crunch time from here on out it should be pick and roll with Baron and Kaman. They are the veterans and should rightfully take the blame or glory closing out games. Pick and roll between them, and if double teamed - pitch out to a wide open Gordon or Butler. That's how games should end.
My prediction for Monday? If Mardy plays 12+ minutes, they will win!
Go Mardy! Go Clippers!