The more I examine the roster composition of the 2011-2012 Clippers, the more I see a roster very similar to the one that the Dallas Mavericks rode to the NBA Championship in 2010-2011. Both teams have:
- An unselfish, distributing point guard with range: Chris Paul, Jason Kidd.
- A dynamic, dominant power forward: Blake Griffin, Dirk Nowitzki.
- A paint-defending, highly athletic center: DeAndre Jordan, Tyson Chandler.
- A jump-shooting combo guard as the sixth man: Mo Williams, Jason Terry.
- The first big man off-the-bench is there primarily for his rebounding ability: Reggie Evans, Brendan Haywood.
- No true shooting guard: Chauncey Billups/Randy Foye, Jason Terry/DeShawn Stevenson/JJ Barea got those minutes.
Let's also not forget that those Mavericks started the season with Caron Butler at the three. Knock on wood.
I figured that, with so many similarities, why not examine the moves the Mavericks made to improve their squad mid-season to give us some sort of idea on what the Clippers might do to improve our squad throughout the season. But first, the actual roster prior to making moves for each team:
|Point Guard||Chris Paul||Jason Kidd|
|Shooting Guards||Chauncey Billups||DeShawn Stevenson|
|Small Forward||Caron Butler||Shawn Marion|
|Power Forward||Blake Griffin||Dirk Nowitzki|
|Center||DeAndre Jordan||Tyson Chandler|
|Sixth man||Mo Williams||Jason Terry|
|Rebounding big||Reggie Evans||Brendan Haywood|
|Guard||Randy Foye||JJ Barea|
|Forward||Ryan Gomes||Brian Cardinal|
|Center||Solomon Jones||Ian Mahinmi|
Besides the possible comeback of Eric Bledsoe, whose minutes will likely be limited, there really isn't any more players who are/were getting significant minutes for either squad; and remember, both Beaubois and Butler went down after ~20-30 games.
Following Caron's injury, they recognized that Shawn Marion wasn't quite enough at forward, and went out and signed three different small forwards to try to replace the production they lost...getting three fairly different players: Pavlovic with respectable three point shooting to go along with some defense, Peja as a pure shooter, and Brewer as a pure defender.
While Brewer only got into four playoff games and Pavlovic was gone before the end of January, Peja eventually stuck as a bench shooter -- to the tune of 21 points against the Blazers and , again, against the Lakers; both playoff games. And while Peja disappeared in the Western Finals and the NBA Finals, this was largely a function of the matchup. Meanwhile, with the Blazers and Lakers being two teams that the Clippers could potentially face in the playoffs, and with similar roster compositions to a year ago, the Clippers would do well in copying the Mavericks mid-season additions. Since Gomes does a little of what Brewer and Pavlovic would bring to the table, he's certainly no Peja.
And no, Brian Cook does not pass as Peja Stojakovic either. Peja's a former 24 PPG scorer that knew his present role. Brian Cook almost averaged 8 PPG once, and seemingly believes he's still playing for the University of Illinois as the primary option. Besides, I'm pretty sure his shot knocks paint off-the-rim; I don't want falling paint maiming the legitimate NBA talent on the Clippers's roster.
Possible former stars with an outside shot that could end up traded and/or cut/bought out ala Peja prior to signing with Dallas in January 2011: Mehmet Okur (final year of his contract that pays him $11 MM), Rashard Lewis, and Wilson Chandler -- reportedly, a $500,000 buyout to the Chinese team is necessary. I'd also throw in Carlos Delfino as a thrift addition, as he's set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year, shoots roughly 37% from 3, and has been losing minutes in the past few games to Mike Dunleavy.
If Dunleavy ends up pushing Delfino towards the end of Scott Skiles rotation, Delfino reacts negatively, and ends up sinking 21 for the Clippers against that other Los Angeles team in late Spring, we all owe the Dunleavy family a Christmas card.