When Chris Kaman is healthy and not the first option, he rocks.
Eric Bledsoe is the most impressive Clipper's rookie point guard I have ever seen (Sorry Shaun!). And he's supposedly a 2 guard, just learning how to run the point. Wow. Not too shabby.
CHRIS KAMAN - A BARGAIN KEEPER
I have been a Kaveman Fan since the early painful days. I always thought he was a perfect fit alongside Brand. In 05-06 you could see flashes of how great he could be alongside a star PF.
As a diehard Clipper fan I have always appreciated, more than winning (obviously - sorry Charlie Sheen), a team that plays hard, has fun, and beats teams the "experts" say they can't.
With that said, for most of my time as a Clips fan, they have been an earthbound, set shot, layup type of team. Dunleavy, at his peak had them playing great defense and I loved watching them shut teams down. Back in the day, the Phoenix Suns were the "exciting" team. Nash throwing lobs to STAT and Joe Johnson or the MATRIX. 3 balls and dunks. 3 balls and dunks.
Fast forward to now and holy cow! - the Clippers have taken over the league! They are by far the most exciting team to watch! Watching other teams on TNT or NBATV are a yawn fest now. One or two dunks a quarter or half? Boo.
Bynum had a dunk tonight and I thought Joel Meyers was gonna poop his pants. It's so sad how he has to scream about a pedestrian lob finish, but that's as exciting as it gets for other teams. A jump straight up, lob catch and put-through on the way down is impressive for fans of other teams. But not us. We get a dunk contest EVERY NIGHT! Twisting, 360, one handed, tomahawk jams at 50 miles an hour from a break-away lob thrown by a guy 50 feet away - that's something to scream about!
Blake and DJ - WOW! But the other guys? Gordon has been inspired to dunk more it seems. Bledsoe can out rebound 7 footers at least twice a night and throw it down on put backs or breakaways. Moe and Aminu CAN dunk. Moon looks like a cartoon, his dunks are ridiculous!
SO WHY AM I HAPPY ABOUT KAMAN?
Because when you play the Wizards, you can dunk 20 times during a game and win easily. But if you play the Spurs or Celtics or any other team that plays defense with any kind of pride you need players that can make jump shots at every position. The best defensive philosophy is to force your opponent to take lower percentage shots and that's what good teams do. They block all lanes to the rim and push the big men out as far away from the rim as possible, usually around 12-15 feet. Or play zone.
You know who has no problem shooting over other bigs from that distance? Dirk Nowitski, Tim Duncan, Amare Stoudamire and oh yeah Chris Kaman can do it fairly well also. Pick-and-pop, small and big - when run properly can beat even the most athletic opponents. It's a staple of championship teams that force opponents to choose between the lesser of two evils. DJ is fine in the pick-and-roll but definitely not the pick-and-pop.
Teams can't win with a toolbox full of hammers. You need a variety of tools to be successful.
DJ - definitely a hammer. Blake is a a hammering type of multi-tool, I think. But Chris is definitely not, which I think makes him awesome for this team now.
Some think that somehow Kaman "ruins" Blake's game, but I believe Chris is great for Blake because: A) He typically sets up and is comfortable away from the basket, leaving more room for Blake to operate closer to the rim where he dominates, B) Barring a "bad shooting night", which every player has once in a while, he's pretty good with that fall-away and more importantly he's comfortable shooting it over and over again, easing the double team on Blake and C) Chris is a willing and decent passer. True, he has his "what-in-the-world-was-he-thinking?" moments but tonight's bounce pass to a cutting Bledsoe showed his vision and willingness to not force things anymore. He can just as easily pass to Blake and help him get easier looks.
With all his positives at his reasonable salary I just don't see how you break up the most versatile three man big rotation ever. Clipper Nation please welcome back Chris with open arms. DJ is great, but Kaman adds a third and necessary dimension this team NEEDS.
Let me start off by saying I loved Shaun Livingston. The idea of a 6'7" point guard with Magic-esque no-look passes, incredible lobs and quick, quick, quick was uber exciting! But Shaun's jump shots were shaky and didn't always finish at the rim. But the worst thing was that he seemed to get flustered at important points in games and breakdown mentally.
Eric Bledsoe. Wow. Has he made a jumper when the Clips needed it badly? Check. Has he made clutch free throws? Check. Has he made clutch three pointers? Check. Does he ever look overwhelmed or even fazed by any big moment in a game? I haven't seen it.
Even keel. Steady. Those are not words I thought I would ever use when I saw him play in those Summer League games. OUT OF CONTROL and WAY TOO FAST seemed to be the evaluation of the day.
But now, heading toward the summer of 2011 Bledsoe has been mostly impressive and only occasionally disappointing, and that mostly due to typical rookie mistakes. Remember how Al Thornton used to look totally lost out there? And he was a 24 year old rookie! But not E-Bled. He exudes great confidence and seems to know where he's supposed to be and where everyone else should be too.
But most of all I am impressed with his aggressiveness. He shoots when he's open, drives when there's a lane, dishes when a big's open, and kicks out to guys on the arc. What more can you ask for out of a rookie point guard who played the 2 in college??
So as we ALWAYS say here in Clipperland. Next season's gonna be awesome!
I think I might actually FULLY believe it this time.