In my life outside of the Clippers, I often spend a lot of time with companies helping them to articulate and define what their goals should be for future performance. As we reflect on the coming season, it feels as though now might be a good time to apply those techniques to our beloved Clippers.
We spend a lot of time on this site discussing goals, but usually they are either much too broad (e.g., make the playoffs, 50 wins, etc.) or much too isolated (e.g., firing Dunleavy or trading Kaman will solve all of our problems). My experience in the business world (and I believe it to be true here) is that rarely is it the case that one thing will solve a systemic problem – no matter how crucial it is.
Thus, I propose we each come up with a list of ten concrete operational goals that, if accomplished, would each fulfill our personal definition of “success” for next season. I’m not suggesting how you should define your goals, because after all, success is often a subjective thing and I don’t want to impose my view of success on any of you just as I wouldn’t want you to do it to me. But I would like to believe that each person will hold him/herself accountable to their stated goals over the coming season. No coming back and complaining about the Clips’ futility if they accomplished many of your stated goals.
A few rules: The goals should not be about what I term “overall performance” i.e., wins/losses or even making the playoffs. My feeling is that if we succeed in the correct ten operational goals, team performance will take care of itself in the long run. Also, there must be ten goals – no putting up one goal like “Sterling must sell the team” and asserting that is the solution. If you can only come up with one goal, you’re thinking about the exercise at too high a level.
Some guidance: when setting goals – whether it be life goals, work goals or Clipper goals – I always follow the mantra of “aggressive yet achievable.” Goal setting that is too aggressive leads to inevitable disappointment. Goal setting that is too achievable leads to sandbagging. Also, I always try to come up with quantifiable metrics where possible, but it’s not a requirement. Just because something is qualitative doesn’t mean it can’t be assessed. But you’d be surprised how often something can be quantified.
For 2009-10, my goals for the Clips are the following:
- Baron reducing his jump shot attempts by 50%, increasing his drives to the basket 25% and increasing his assists 25%. Implicitly, this goal means that Baron’s back is healthy.
- Gordon developing to the point where he receives as much attention in the national press for being at the top of his class i.e., as valuable as Derrick Rose.
- Blake Griffin contributing at PF at a level comparable to what Gordon did at SG last year, but getting more minutes (but not necessarily as a starter) than Gordon from Game 1.
- If Kaman stays (see below), a substantial increase in his focus and work ethic, with a 50% increase in dunks and 100% elimination of weak shots off of the glass when within three feet of the basket, plus a 25% reduction in turnovers.
- Thornton reducing his 15+ foot jump shots 75%, eliminating his stutter step 95% and increasing his drives to the hoop and/or getting to the foul line 50%.
- Zach increasing his work ethic on defense (saying “a lot” is not realistic but marginal improvement is achievable) while saying and doing all the right things to make Blake Griffin’s integration into the team as seamless as possible (e.g., minimal complaining coming off the bench). Note that I said nothing about his offensive production as a goal.
- A definitive answer to the questions around center i.e., either trade Kaman/Camby or not, but make it definitive and eliminate the distraction.
- Dunleavy devoting 25% of his practices every day to simulating end of quarter/half/game possessions, with a resulting 75% increase in our conversion rate in those final possessions.
- Zach and Ricky keeping their noses clean for a full season i.e., no drunk driving, punches, pot or drug possessions, or anything else.
- Donald Sterling avoiding getting his name in the press for anything – Clippers or otherwise.
I had many others (e.g., Camby, Novak, DJ, Mike Taylor), but these were the top ten that, if achieved, I would look back on the 2009-10 season and say “wow, that was a really satisfying season.”
So I've revealed my hand. Time for everyone else to lay down their cards.