My goodness, there's so much to do what with this guy Griffin and Summer League and Allen Iverson and what not. And it's only July.
I'm afraid that if I try to write a Perrin-sized post on all of these subjects, I'll never get through everything - or not until it's all become pretty stale at any rate. So I'm going to be a little more stream of consciousness than usual and just try to cover a lot of territory in one, rambling post.
Iverson. I'm glad that I decided to put up that poll. Or maybe I'm not. I personally feel like it would be a very bad idea to add Iverson to this roster at this time, and I sort of assumed that most of the Citizens of Clips Nation agreed. The early comments all tended toward the very negative. Then I started noticing more and more comments supporting the idea, which is why I decided to conduct the poll. To my surprise, the vote has been running pretty consistently at 60% in favor of signing Iverson, 40% against. And that's with over 500 votes in. I did not see that coming. It certainly explains to some extent why the Clippers are considering it - it's apparently not the no-brainer bad idea that I thought it was. I still think the Clippers will take a on AI, but of course that depends in large part on what other options present themselves.
Marcus Williams. Speaking of other options, former first round pick Marcus Williams has been one of the better unsigned point guards at Summer League so far. The Clippers will get a first hand look at him when they play Memphis tonight.
Quick Thoughts on the Hornets Game. It's just Summer League, so one should not get to worked up one way or the other. However, it would be nice to think that the Clippers, with Griffin, Gordon and Jordan all playing big minutes, would be able to handle the Hornets a little more easily. New Orleans use a three guard offense to pressure the Clippers in the second half, and frankly the Clippers (I'm looking at you, Mike Taylor) didn't handle it very well. NOH's second round pick Marcus Thornton played very well, as did first rounder Darren Collison, both of them having a HUGE second half. This isn't incredibly surprising - from watching a lot of games, it's clear that Summer League favors guard play - those guys have the ball, and can make things happen even without a lot of practice time or great execution of set plays. It's harder to get the ball to the bigs in the right spot than it is to simply let your guards break people down. So that's probably why the Hornets were able to hang with the Clippers despite getting almost nothing from their 4 and 5 spot.
Of course the Clippers' advantage was massive on the inside, and in the end it proved to be enough despite the inherent advantages for guards in the summer. Blake Griffin continues to impress, and in surprising ways. He didn't make any jumpers or turnarounds in game two - but he did have 5 assists to go with his 16 points and 9 rebounds. It's not news, but his combination of strength and quickness tends to catch me by surprise, even though I know it's coming. You're just not used to seeing a guy that size, make such quick moves, and then simply power through bodies on the finish. It's an almost unstoppable combination - his quickness advantage allows him to get his defender out of position and off-balance - and then even when the defender tries to recover, Blake now has the leverage and the unbelievable strength to get his shot off, where it's either a basket or a foul or both. I wasn't convinced that he was going to be much of a scorer this season - but now I am. He's going to get better, to be sure - but he's very good now. MUCH, MUCH, MUCH better at the same stage than his physical doppelgangers like Amare and Dwight. Those 5 assists really tell the story - these weren't simple passes to spot up shooters - these were basketball plays, setting up teammates for dunks. Just as in the Lakers game, one Griffin sequence in particular stands out from the Hornets game - on the defensive end, he grabbed the rebound so high off the floor that I let out an audible gasp (despite my every effort at remaining cub reporter impartial) , threw the outlet pass, filled the lane, got the pass back, but found his lane to the basket cut off, so he went past the defender toward the baseline where he had to shot - and hit DeAndre Jordan at the rim for an easy dunk. That one play displayed a range of skills that very few athletes possess.
Jordan was just great - actually, his offense showed a little less polish than in the Lakers game, but his energy more than made up for it. He was 7 for 10 from the field, and most of those were dunks. He also made 7 of 10 free throws, and I'd wager that it's the first time he's shot that well from the line in his life - a very encouraging development. And he had 3 blocks and numerous other challenges at the rim, including a big rejection near the end (which was probably goal tending by the way, but who cares). You need look no further than the blocked shots (3 compared to 0) and the rebounds (12 compared to 5) to know that he was playing with more energy in game two. And like Griffin, he possesses a quickness advantage against most opponents that will serve him well this season, especially if he can improve his free throw shooting. Several times in this game he used his quickness to get past people and forced them to foul him, even though I don't think he had much of what he was going to do next.
Eric Gordon finished with 22, despite not hitting well from the outside (0 for 4 from beyond the arc). He was really working on his post up, which was good to see. His success there Tuesday, perhaps even more than other bright spots this summer, has to be taken with a grain of salt - he was killing the likes of Jaycee Carroll and Marcus Thornton on the block. He won't be seeing those guys very often in the regular season. Still, he's clearly worked on that part of his game, and even though he's ostensibly undersized at the two, he could be a very effective post scorer with his combination of quickness and strength.
Tonight's Game. Zhiv correctly pointed out that the marquee matchup in tonight's game will be between the two centers - the lottery pick who somehow fell into the second round in 2008, and the lottery pick who somehow rose to second overall in 2009. The Clippers have yet to face much of an imposition from oppostion bigs, but that definitely changes tonight. In addition to second overall pick Hasheem Thabeet, the Grizzlies feature Darrell Arthur, who was their starting power forward most of last season. They also have the truly massive Hamed Haddadi, who I've decided can have a great career as a movie villain (the seven foot terrorist) if this whole NBA thing doesn't pan out. At any rate, if Griffin and Jordan can dominate these guys it will tell us a little more about where they are on their development curve.
Summer League From an Outsider's Perspective. A good friend of mine, my canyoneering friend Nick from Zion, happened to be in Vegas earlier this week and we hung out together on Tuesday. Now, Nick is not a huge basketball fan, but he's one of those generalists that likes to really delve into whatever he happens to be doing. Thus, when he comes to LA, we watch the Clippers and he soaks up all of my Clipper-y minutia. And Tuesday in Vegas, we watched three pre-season games together, and I showered him with details about the goings on. At any rate, Nick may not be a basketball expert, but I would consider him a very astute observer in general, and he brings the outsider's eye to his basketball observations, free of pre-conception. All of this to say that he got to see both Hasheem Thabeet and DeAndre Jordan play pre-season games on Tuesday. And when I asked him who he thought was the better player, he replied "Are you kidding?" Thabeet he found to be unathletic and uninspiring. Tall and not much else. But he picked out Jordan as the best player on the court in the final game of the day. He particularly loved what he interpreted as Jordan's ethic or attitude on the floor. He went about his business. If he dunked the ball, he hustled back on defense. Nick felt like he was giving maximum effort the whole time and he sensed great confidence in Jordan, without overconfidence. Obviously, this is one outsider's opinion, but I found it very interesting.
Continuing with Nick observations, he had some equally interesting things to say about Mike Taylor. He liked him, and saw that he was working hard. In fact, before I told him that his roster spot was relatively secure, Nick got the impression that Taylor was fighting long odds of making the team - that he had to do anything he could to get the attention of the coaching staff. Thus, he felt that Taylor was trying too hard, was trying to do too much on the court. Another very asture observation, I thought.
And whereas Nick saw a quiet confidence in Jordan, he sensed a little cockiness in Griffin. Now, it's fairly clear that Griffin can back that up, and cocky is not necessarily bad in an NBA superstar (many would argue that it's good). But again, I thought it was an interesting take, and not one that I would have noticed myself. I think that's probably because I know that he's the number one pick and I know the hype that surrounds him; so comparatively speaking, Griffin seems quite humble. But to someone without pre-conceptions, one of the more striking qualities for the rookie is his self-confidence.