After some of the discussion on one of the other posts, I decided it was time for me to make a fanpost or do something. So here is the first of several I plan to do over the next week or two (the others will be about potential trades and VDN).
Well, we have a post up about the Point Guard situation, and there has been endless talk about both the SF and C spots, so I want to discuss the bench and what I hope we will see from it and who we will see on it next year.
The Expectations: With a year more of seasoning from some of the younger guys, and a year more with VDN and his "offense" (I am making another post about that later) I would like for our bench to be much more consistent this upcoming year. Sure, there were times that they looked great last year, but there were many more times when the lead was blown, or when an existing deficit was multiplied. While the "offense" was not particularly good last year for the starters, the bench seemed to be running no offense at all most of the time, just Bledsoe or Aminu driving to the hoop, Kaman shooting a jumper off a pick and pop, or Foye doing a 22 foot stepback jumper. None of that was very efficient, and I would like to see a ton more ball movement and passing for the unit next year.
Randy Foye: He is a guy I would definitely want to hold onto for a while. He is still relatively young, he is a good shooter, and has decent passing and dribbling abilities. In other words, he is yet another combo guard, but unlike most of the others, he has a better mix of talent. He has slightly bigger size than Mo or Bledsoe to guard SGs, and still has the passing to run the point. While his running of the game on offense makes Mo seem like Baron Davis with his passing, he is fairly consistent, and is suitable for short stretches. A keeper unless there is a good deal for him.
Eric Bledsoe: Another combo guard, but Eric is very young, very athletic, and already a very different player from anyone else on the roster. He is a much better defender already than Mo or Foye, and has the athleticism to be better yet. His passing and shooting aren’t quite up to par with being a starter, but he is another perfect guy to sparkplug a team off the bench. If he can get himself under control more this year, without all the wild dribbles and passes, I would trust him at the point much more. He did seem to have some personality issues last year, but hopefully he should grow out of it. He is a guy with a ton of potential, and while that makes him very valuable, it also means he is one of our top trade assets, and I don’t think I would turn down a trade for Iggy involving Eric as the main piece. A keeper and potential starter, but might be traded for right deal.
Al-Farouq Aminu: Aminu could be a very good SF in this league, or he could be a total bust. Like Bledsoe, he has great athleticism, and like Bledsoe, he also doesn’t make the greatest decisions a lot of the time. He is also a decent defender, and could be better, and his passing and dribbling seemed about right for a rookie wing player. Aminu's bane last year was his shooting, for after the first month of the season, his touch, especially from 3, totally vanished. If he can improve on his shooting he would be a solid player, but if he doesn’t, he won’t be anything more useful than a 10 minute a game guy to try to get some energy in the game. Keeper for now, but much more of a chance to get traded (IMO).
Brian Cook: Cook is a stretch 4, which means he is big and can shoot the 3 ball. He is actually not an awful defender, but he brings almost nothing else to the game. He is a decent back of the bench guy and seems like a nice person, but I don’t want to see him in more than 10-15 games next year. Back of the bench role player and veteran leader.
Ryan Gomes: Hopefully Gomes can put up better numbers as a bench player next year (if we can pick up a starting SF). He had an awful starting year with the Clippers, with career lows in almost every offensive category. He is a decent defender, and a low-usage guy, which means that theoretically he should work well as a kick-out man for Blake on the block or EJ or Mo off the drive. If he could just make his corner 3s, he would be a very good bench guy for 15 minutes a game at either the 3 or the 4. On the plus side, he seemed like a very good teammate, and a hard worker. He is a keeper by necessity of contract, and hopefully he can produce in more limited minutes.
Travis Leslie: One of our new rookies, and hopefully a nice pickup fairly late in the draft. He has ridiculous athleticism and is a good defender and rebounder, but doesn’t seem to bring that much to the table offensively. This is fine, because he is a SG, which is one of our stronger positions, with EJ and Foye ahead of him on the depth chart. End of the bench SG, but could potentially move up.
Trey Thompkins: The second of the rookies, and in some ways the more intriguing. Trey is a stretch 4, and since he is young and can still develop, should get time ahead of Cook, though neither will probably see that much with Blake playing 40 minutes a game. He is a big guy, and had some rumors of laziness and attitude problems, but his overall skill set is pretty good, and he was considered a steal when the Clippers got him. End of the bench stretch 4.
DeAndre Jordan: He really does need to be resigned for this Clipper's team's future to shine brightest. If nothing else, the past few playoffs have all shown that having a good defensive center (Perkins, Bynum, Chandler) is key to a playoff team. DeAndre is very limited offensively, but you can’t teach height and athleticism, and he is already well on his way to being a good defender. His rebounding also improved, though with Blake Griffin around, his rebounding numbers will probably never be high. He also fits well with Blake and EJ in that he doesn’t use many touches, since most of his points come off of putbacks, the fast break, or broken plays inside. He is still young, and has hopefully been working on his offensive game so that he might be at least somewhat of a threat from more than four feet from the hoop. Resigning him should be top priority come the start of next season, along with resigning EJ.
Ike Diogu: I would love to see Ike come back next year. He is a hard worker, and a solid defender and rebounder who can also shoot the midrange jumper. His size enables him to play the 4 and 5, which makes him a more versatile backup than Rhino, though he is less flashy. He is also probably more cost effective. Bring him back on slightly above minimum salary, then have him be the primary backup for Blake, and tertiary backup for the DJ/Kaman duo.
Craig Smith: I like Craig, but while his skill set is better than Ike's, his lack of size means he can only play the 4 effectively, where there would already be Trey, Cook, and Ike (possibly) fighting for minutes. He would also want a larger contract than Ike probably, which means that due to the cost of resigning EJ and DJ, he doesn’t warrant the kind of money he might be after. I don’t think we will see Rhino next year, unless we can’t get Ike or any other decent backup at the 4.
Jamario Moon: I love Moon, so this is a flat out biased paragraph. He is a great character guy, who probably won’t demand much money or playtime, and when called upon, is a good defender, a decent rebounder, a great athlete, and an average 3 ball shooter. He wouldn’t get much if any time on this team next year, but I like him and I want him back. Bring back the Moon Dogg!
Edit: Willie Warren: As I made in a seperate reply down below, things dont look good for Willie. While he is probably a more complete player than Trey or Leslie, he is at our strongest depth chart position, which is PG. He is clearly well behind Mo, Foye, and Bledsoe in minutes, and even if one of them goes down, there wouldnt be much need of him. Next year, when Foye is gone, and when we will have a better idea about how good Bledsoe is, and if he and Mo are going to be here for a while, Willie would be a very nice high upside backup. This year though, I just dont see why we would have him.
If the 3 FAs arent brought back and it is a choice between Warren and Leslie, I think Leslie would get in over him. If it is between Trey and Willie, matters would seem murkier.
Hopefully with Gomes being a solid addition to the bench, and with improvements from our young guys, our bench can be a weapon instead of a liability next year.