Have to say, it's kinda sad and boring to be a Clipper fan right now. Lots of reasons, most of them obvious. I thought that getting Eric Gordon back, with a healthy Chris Kaman, would be exciting and solve everything. But it's pretty tough when the games don't matter, and we don't even have tanking to hold our interest. When the Clips go up against a truly hungry, motivated teams like the Suns and 76ers, they look terrible. When they play bad teams like the Cavs and tonight's opponent, the Wizards, the whole spectacle is pretty pathetic. If our wunderkind Blake Griffin was beasting every time out it might be different, but he has been caught up in the general malaise. Griffin misses Baron Davis (although Eric Gordon probably doesn't), as do many of us, though nobody misses him being overpaid for inconsistent effort, focus, and judgment, and we don't miss his bad knee and bad back.
At least Mo Williams is healthy (for now). But we've seen a pretty good sample of Mo-time, and I'd say it has been mixed. We haven't seen a lot of Mo as a complementary player to a healthy Eric Gordon, but I think we can guess that it's going to be pretty much the same. He can shoot better than BD, he can pass the ball a little bit, he can get his own shot at times. His defense is poor. His shot selection can be iffy. He's a little streaky, and the streaks don't always seem to happen at the most opportune moments, tho you never know. All in all, he's a nice piece, and he could be a solid component of next year's effort to reach the playoffs. At 9-10 mil or whatever it is, he's overpaid at something like the same ratio that Baron Davis was overpaid. But the dollars are significantly less, which means that they can be spent somewhere else. How (and if) they're spent is a different discussion. The question that I have is whether Mo Williams is better than Eric Bledsoe, and if he should be the presumptive starter going into next season.
I'm a little shocked to find myself even asking this question. Bledsoe seemed more promising than I expected, but he was raw and all over the place in the summer league. Even when BD was out for an extended period and he filled in capably as the starter, surprising all of us, he seemed deeply flawed and still a long way, as much as a couple of years, away from taking the position by right. Davis, displaying skill, confidence, and experience, showed how much Bledsoe needed to improve as soon as he came back. But then things got mixed up, with Gordon injured for an extended period, BD wearing down and getting shipped out, and Mo arriving. Mo and Randy Foye played their modest game with Gordon out, and Bledsoe contributed too. We waited for Gordon to return, to make it all better. As we were doing so, however, Bledsoe mounted some charges and put in some runs that were a match for just about anything put up by Williams or Foye. He seemed to be playing at their level, all of them showing flashes of strong play, none of them consistently exerting their will in a determined fashion. If Bledsoe looked a little bit better because of a few athletic plays, his standard pair of early unforced turnovers balanced things out.
But now Eric Gordon is finally back. Again, the games right no don't seem to offer much to get excited about, but the competition should improve. The question is whether the Clippers can find some spark and some fire, if they can be good and compete with good teams that are angling for playoff position. And I have to say that I'm skeptical of the Mo Williams experiment. We'll see if he sets up guys and gets the team off to a good start, and they play their way into leads and hold onto them. Maybe it's just me, but since Bledsoe's recent mini-surge, it seems like the team plays better when he comes in at the point, and he's just a better fit somehow. And that makes me curious about what he might be like as the starter. That is, as the starter on a team where BDavis is no longer expected to come back.
Part of it is defense and athleticism. Bledsoe, and Aminu and Griffin along with him, needs to turn his athleticism and physical gifts into becoming a strong and consistent defender. His athleticism will make him a much better matchup on defense against the league's elite PGs than Mo Williams. That's going to take some time, just as it is going to for Aminu and Griffin. Along with DeAndre Jordan, the U23 team can turn into a very tough defensive team, if they work at it. Eric Gordon is already there, and Jordan is properly focused on playing defense.
And the other factor is improvement and "upside." As I said, Mo Williams seems to be a known factor at this point. But Bledsoe has already surprised us a couple of times this season (and he has frustrated us at times as well), and his improvement has been striking and better than expected. We'll see now if he can pull off a late season surge. Beyond that, with the focus of an off-season hardcore like Griffin (and DJ with him), his improvement from May to October could be stunning.
Lastly, doesn't Mo Williams seem like a guy who would be really effective coming off the bench for a great team? Just sayin.