Ok folks, let's face it: the last four games have got us all a little rattled. So before we all freak out any further and start demanding coaching or personnel changes, let's all take a deep breath and relax.
Doesn't that feel better? Good. Now let's have a reasonable discussion on the state of our team. We've all seen what our guys are capable of. Good or bad, we know exactly what they can do. At their best, they're a dynamic, fast-paced juggernaut that is essentially unstoppable. That's the good news. At their worst, they're a lazy, sloppy, turnover-ridden mess. What remains to be seen, is which team is gonna show up for the rest of the season. Let's be realistic, after that six game win streak, no one expected them to go undefeated. Admittedly, we also didn't expect them to crap out like they have.
So what can we expect going forward. Let me remind you all that we have a point guard by the name of Chris Paul. CP3 does not like to lose. It is with almost absolute certainty, that he's going to light a fire under his teammates' collective butts. These last four games has been one of the bigger slumps that we've seen from him (probably the biggest since he put on the red, white and blue). He's averaged under eight assists and over three turnovers. Not his best work. But he'll bounce back, and as CP3 goes, so go the Clippers. The only complaint I have with CP3 is relating to tempo. He's so deliberate and controlled, that it often seems that we don't get to take advantage of our athleticism. Maybe go a little faster sometimes, Chris.
Something we obviously need to improve on is our porous perimeter defense. Teams have been lighting us up from the outside. This is a carryover from last season. It's hard to say whether or not this has been firmly addressed by the coaching staff or just overlooked in place of better rebounding. (Other than a few outliers, our rebounding has been outstanding) Fortunately for us, we still have two very savvy veterans that are solid perimeter defenders soon to return: Grant Hill and Chauncey Billups. I refuse to believe that they'll be anything but positive additions to our group. Otherwise, we do a good job creating turnovers and owning the paint.
Finally, there are the X-factor players: former 6th Man of the Year winners Jamal Crawford and Lamar Odom. We know Jamal can score. Without a doubt, he's the most dynamic scorer on our team. I can't think of another player in recent history who could create shots the way Crawford does. He's struggled in the last few games, but primarily because other teams are aware (and wary) of him now. He's faced lots of double teams and schemes designed to disrupt him. Once we get our two injured vets back, they'll add scoring to the potential line-ups that VDN can use for his second unit. Doubling Jamal will only result in open shots for Grant Hill. Teams will have to abandon the double tactic or live with Hill making many mid-range jumpers (which he's excellent at). As for Lamar, I think we've seen about all we're gonna see from him. Sure, he says he's motivated, but with such limited playtime and his fitness still an issue, it just seems unlikely that he'll do much more than what he currently is. We'll just have to find a way without him.
As for the rest of the team, don't worry about them. Everyone else is a role-player, and they know and can perform those roles well. Please don't hate on me because I included Blake in the role player category. He's a big, strong low post player that's meant to overpower his match-ups. No more, no less. We've got our spot-up shooters (Butler, Green, Billups), our defensive specialists (Bledsoe, Barnes, Hill), and our back-up bigs (Hollins and Turiaf). I haven't forgotten about DJ. I saved him for last because he's still a work in progress. Shaq took a jab at Dwight Howard by proclaiming DJ the best center in the western conference. It was a little premature, but DJ certainly has the potential. A little more emphasis on boxing out on the defensive end, and some more refinement of his post game and he'll be just fine. Sure, make some free throws too, guy.
All in all, let's not get too wrapped up in our latest results. When the season started, we were projected to be a top 4 team in the west. Despite our four game losing streak, we're still tied for 4th and tied for 1st in the Pacific division. Sure, we aren't exceeding expectations by any stretch of the imagination, but we're pretty much where we expected to be. I don't expect that we'll stay here either. Our team will come around and make a solid play for the top 3 seeds in the west. Stay positive guys. Clipper Nation.