As long as I'm hanging out here keeping the home fires burning, I thought I might hit one pet topic of my own, and also speculate on the primary preoccupations in the comments on this morning's missive. You know, because I can.
The post was about getting Win #10 and the Clips grabbing 5 out of the last 6. Prior to that, I made a quick note after the Phoenix game and asked for Likes and Dislikes. Maybe I should have done that again after the victory over the Kings, and the Dislikes (Ryan Gomes, anyone?) might have been revealing. I guess I did my own Likes and Dislikes and perhaps preempted some of that discussion. I was surprised to see that the commentary devolved pretty quickly into trade talk. Is that any way to enjoy success?
i like good trade speculation as much as anybody, and I have to say that I especially like new era Clipper trade speculation, where the Clippers have assets and payroll flexibility, and we can talk about giving up a little to get a lot. Back in the day, when the Clippers were massively disfunctional, there used to be a lot of absurd proposals from the outside, along the lines of suggesting that they should trade Kaman, Gordon, Aminu and a #1 pick for the privilege of renting Carmelo Anthony for a year in a season where they won't make the playoffs. Oh, wait, that wasn't an idea from the last decade? What I like are things that work the other way, what I just mentioned: give up a little to get a lot. Otherwise, stick to the Core Philosophy: Do Nothing.
I wrote about Kaman not too long ago, when things were really ugly. Griffin and Gordon had established themselves, but the Clips were still losing and the outlook was bleak. Another 50 game season (at best) from Kaman, combined with his rather mystifying slow start, seemed to be the primary reason why the Clips sprinted to 20 losses and took themselves out of the playoff picture as quickly as possible. Five quick wins (and it should be 8 or 9 out of the last 10, but we take what we can get) changes things, no? But in the comments on my thoughts on Kaman, after a lot of good discussion, somebody said, you know, guys like Kaman don't come around every day, and they're hard to replace. He's an asset, and a good one, and something of a rarity. I was geared up for getting aggressive about shipping out Kaman, but this caused me to pause. If you want to get a better SF, if you feel that Gomes is an inadequate placeholder, and Aminu needs more time, you solve that problem. But you don't necessarily give up on Kaman in order to do it. They're not necessarily part of the same conversation. They could be, but they don't have to be.
It's related to being patient about Baron Davis. Davis and his role on the team look very different right now than they did two weeks ago. For one thing, he's the only guard on the team who can throw a good pass, so there's that. As good and pleasantly surprising as Bledsoe has been, and as great as Gordon is, and even now having the additional intrigue of getting Randy Foye back, there's a definite, important role on the young Clipper team for a healthy Baron Davis and a specific, significant contribution that he can make. His return and solid play have been a critical part of the recent Clipper success.
And so, along similar lines, after my Kaman pause a couple of weeks ago, I'm not eager by any means to jump into trade talk now that the team is winning some games and Kaman happens to remain on the sidelines. Rather, I'm more curious than ever to see what the team might be like with the addition of Kaman, and I'm looking for an update and finding out when he might be coming back. Is it mid-January, in more than two weeks? Didn't we calculate 10 games, and has it been 4 or 5 already? And then of course there's the Kaman injury wrinkle in the space-time continuum, which some Cal Tech Clipper fan should be working on. Citizens should talk about whatever they want and whatever they find interesting, but isn't it more intriguing to speculate on what Kaman might add to the current uprising, rather than focus on dumping him?
But I'll tell you what topic I do like. Keeping track of the progress of Derrick Rose, Russell Westbrook, and Eric Gordon. I grabbed a minute and took a look, and the numbers get more interesting the deep you go. The obvious part is PPG. Last time I looked I think that DR was at 25+, maybe even 26, and EG and RW were neck and neck at about 24+. Everybody has dipped a bit, but EG less than the other two. DR is at 24.3, EG close behind at 23.9, and RW is down to 22.4. GP is at 32/RW, 30/EG, and 28/DR. EG and RW have both scored exactly 718 points: Gordon in two fewer games.
We know that Gordon is finally starting to hit the 3. He's currently at 51-152, 34%. That's significant improvement, and a rising total. Westbrook, as before, doesn't take 'em, as he's 10-37, 27%. Rose is having a breakout, unprecedented year from deep, and he is 45-118, 38%. The things to watch for here are to see if Rose keeps pace with Gordon's total, and if Gordon passes him on the percentage side. On overall FG% it's EG 46,4%, DR 45.6% and RW 43.7%. TS% is EG .581, RW .536, and DR .533.
Eric Gordon is making 3s and shooting fewer free throws. Russell Westbrook has started missing some free throws, but not a lot. He's 220-254, 86%. Gordon's percentage is slowly improving, and he's now 189-235, .804%. Rose just doesn't get to the line the way that EG and RW do: he's 112-147, 76%.
Remember when Westbrook was a phenomenal rebounder and Gordon was terrible?
Now they're right about the same. Westbrook has 105 rebounds in 32 games; Thanks to citizen bonkrood's catch, the first part of that statement is still true. Westbrook has 105 defensive rebounds, and 154 total. So he's still a phenomenal rebounder. (Thunder PF Jeff Green has 152 total rebounds; Durant has 184, Ibaka has 210. Thabo Sefolosha has more than Westbrook, 167.) Gordon has 97. So Gordon is not so terrible. He had 160 rebounds in 60 games last year, and 201 as a rookie. Rose, by the way, has 134 in 28 games.
Westbrook leads the league in turnovers with 126, and Rose has 107. But they both have the assists to make up for it, as Westbrook is at 259 and Rose at 235. Gordon, not a PG of course, has 88 turnovers and 137 assists. And Westbrook is almost doubling up Gordon and Rose in steals, as he has 65 and they have 36 and 34, respectively. The assists and steals add up to give RW a PER of 23.7. Rose is at 22.2. And Eric Gordon is at 21.1. For whatever PER is worth.
What does it all mean? First of all, it means that these are three great players, all of them young, supremely athletic, and really fun to watch. And it's interesting to check in here at the end of the year, 30 or so games in, as the averages start balancing out a bit. Westbrook isn't a 90% free throw shooter, and Gordon isn't going to finish the season shooting 23% from deep. Gordon's rebounding uptick is significant, as is Rose's giant leap in his 3 pt. total. But I don't know that Rose will shoot 38% for the season, and my guess is that Gordon might do better than that, though maybe not by much. We'll see. The final PPG numbers might be pretty close, but my guess is that Gordon is going to come out on top. Rose has had some big games, and so has Westbrook, while Gordon has been more consistent, but it seems like his shot is starting to fall more easily. But it's fun to watch.
And you know what else is fun? Looking at Blake Griffin's stats.