Just some of my thoughts watching the game tonight, not a full recap.
Intros: To start the year off right Fox Prime Ticket decided to air the player introductions. In the dramatic climax, "Your Starting Lineup", the Clipper's announcer introduced Mo as Chauncey Billups. Mo smiled but looked uncomfortable as his eyes grew big in confusion. He almost looked like he was going to turn around and not come out but then the announcer said his name. As if Mo wasn't already feeling disrespected this was a great way to start the home opener. I bet he wasn't happy.
Another note on Mo: Plaschke is reporting that after a missed shot by Mo, Caron yelled out "Pass the Ball!" to him after which they exchanged words. As much as I love Mo as the microwave off the bench, maybe it would be best for Mo AND the Clippers if he started for some other team.
Defense Sucks: I think this is obvious and it seems like some fans think VDNs defensive sets or lack thereof should get him booted right away. Others seem to think we need Pryzbilla or Fesenko immediately to right the ship. I think it's too soon to start criticizing VDN as he never had a training camp or much less a decent preseason to institute anything. Plus they played the Spurs, whose core of Manu, Timmy and Tony have played together for 10 years with at least a year with Blair, Jefferson, and Bonner, and now Chicago, whose main starters and bench have played together for a whole season (RIP being the only new, big piece). So of course their offense is going to make the Clips' D look like swiss cheese as they ran sets they've been practicing and running, fine-tuning for at least a year, if not years. Adding a big man is not going to instantly shore up our defense, because the defense that is lacking is TEAM defense. In the fourth quarter tonight the Bulls made almost every 3 point shot they attempted (I think it was at least 5). That's not something a Pryzbilla or Fesenko or a Reggie Evans is going to fix instantly.
Blake said in the Clippers Live post game interview that they need to do a better job helping to contain Rose and getting out to the 3 point shooters. Easier said than done! Even for a finely tuned defensive team, that is a struggle and a reason why the Bulls and Spurs both won something like 60 games last year.
My point on Defense: Fans need to be patient. What needs to be done in the meantime as the team learns how to play together more effectively? I do believe the Clippers could benefit from another big(of course) AND a taller guard. Why do I say that?
Just for fun, lets compare the Clippers roster to the Dallas Mavs Lineup for the Final Game of the Championship last year, GAME 6. As of today the Clips feature CP3, Chauncey & Mo in the backcourt, who are all short (listed as 6, 6-1, 6-3). But some could argue that last year's Championship Mavericks team often played JJ Barea (6[no way]), Kidd (6-4) and Terry (6-2) big minutes (30, 36, 34 in Game 6 of the Finals) to beat Miami. In the front court they had Dirk, Chandler and Marion. We have Blake, DJ and Caron. But off the bench they played Cardinal, MAHINMI and STEVENSON each about 12 minutes. Cardinal is a veteran stretch/perimeter big (we have our own Brian - Cook).
Now here's the difference & maybe a point of interest. Mahinmi was just basically a big body (6-11, 270) who made 2-3, grabbed 3 boards but banged out 5 fouls. The Clips don't have anyone like that on the roster, thus the rumors of Pryz. We need another 6-11, 7 footer to backup DJ for at least 12 minutes a game.
But what about Stevenson, he was the crazy guy (which Barkley on TNT said something to the point of all good teams need that one crazy guy - to which point Dallas acquired Delonte West this year since DeShawn is gone?) that played tough D.
On the Clips it would seem that Foye should be that defensive stopper. But Foye is at least an inch shorter, maybe a step slower, not nearly crazy Metta Peacey enough, and really more of a shooter and not really very consistent in the clutch. I think we need a very different kind of guard at the 2 coming off the bench. Some old Clips fans have brought up a fan favourite, Quinton Ross (who I actually got to have lunch with as a STH lunch winner! Very nice couple - him and his wife) I think he or more likely a player like him would definitely fit the defensive plan much better than Foye. Taller, longer arms and purely determined to chase and annoy opposing 2s and 3s (he should be able to switch off onto a Melo or Durant for short periods). He doesn't have to be great on offense. Why? Well some could argue that Foye stunk it up on both offense and defense, yet the Clips outshot the Bulls 51% to 50%. So even with Foye pulling the numbers down, the offense was fine.
So again just for fun here is how I see the Clips putting together a Championship caliber roster by comparing it to last season's Finals Game 6 Mavs Roster
Mavs - Clippers
JJ Barea - Eric Bledsoe [I genuinely believe he can have that same speedy, disruptive effect on the game]
Jason Kidd - CP3 [Kidd is taller and can post up better, but CP3 is just as crafty and can get in the lane better]
Jason Terry - Chauncey Billups [Terry may be younger & more mobile but Chauncey is just as deadly from 3 in the clutch]
DeShawn Stevenson - ???
Shawn Marion - Caron Butler [Similar games around 12-8 but the Matrix seems to have a longer reach for better D]
Dirk Nowitzki - Blake Griffin [Vastly different games but both potent on offense while somewhat criticized on defense or lack thereof]
Brian Cardinal - Brian Cook [Both vets and stretch bigs]
Tyson Chandler - Deandre Jordan [DJ is not there yet but some in media are saying CP3 could help him develop into the next Tyson Chandler. People see similarities in their games]
Ian Mahinmi - ???
Corey Brewer - Ryan Gomes [I think Corey is definitely a better scorer than Gomes, but he was skinnier than a supermodel and did not play enough to affect games. Gomes should not play much either but he is. Problem]
Brendan Haywood - Reggie Evans [Brendan is taller and bigger and now starting, Evans is shorter and older but maybe what they give you is the same? Minimal minutes of rebounds and fouling opposing bigs]
Peja Stojakovic - Thompkins [Both 6-11, thin and can shoot 3s BUT Peja was deadly without hesitation and a veteran volume scorer at times, Thompkins is younger and more athletic and thus should be better on defense]
So am I basing my opinion of needing a taller, defensive minded (maybe crazy) SG and a 7 foot big man on this fantasy "build your team like last year's winner" comparison? Yes and no.
Yes, because I think it's a proof of concept. No, because I just feel that those two things are missing in watching the last two games. Cook and Thompkins are definitely not bulky or tall enough to deal with Blair, Duncan, Splitter, Asik, Noah or Boozer. Foye has not seemed to be quick enough or tall enough to defend effectively and probably thinks he's going to make his shots, where he should actually just be a decoy and focusing all his effort on defense. Gomes has not seemed to bring enough energy or defense or anything positive in a meaningful way (in 12 minutes he was -18, went 0-2 with 2 rebs and 1 to).
So if we took my fantasy comparison as a rule what would it suggest about the Clips roster?
1. Play CP3, Billups and Mo the most minutes. If Bledsoe returns healthy, trade Mo if you can get something of value in return. Some seem concerned that VDN played CP3 too many minutes tonight but I think CP3 is a bit overweight and needs the extra burn to start getting into shape. Plus he needs all the court time he can get with Blake. AND Billups (and Bledsoe) was out - he had to play big minutes.
2. Don't Play/Dump/Trade Foye. Find a taller, quicker, longer defensive minded 2 Guard. Don't worry about his offense, we have plenty of scoring. I know - easier said than done. Suggestions as to who's out there that could fit this bill?
3. Don't Play/Dump/Trade Gomes. Give Thompkins his minutes and live with his rookie mistakes. He needs playing time to develop. Play him at the 3 and 4. If Gomes is untradeable keep him as a backup.
4. Sign a Big Body (6-11, 230 at the very least). In this league, big bodies that can rebound and foul opposing stars is a necessity to keep starting bigs rested and out of foul trouble. Pryzbilla and Fesenko are on the radar and seem passable as Ian Mahinmi type number producers. As an added bonus Pryzbilla seemed to have a little feisty/crazy in him. Barkley might approve of him as "that one crazy guy" for the Clippers to be good.
Any taller, defensive minded SGs out there that the Clips should be looking at acquiring? DNPs, buried on the end of benches of teams with loads of 2 guards?