Steve's article yesterday, and Andrew Sharp's excellent post on SB Nation today got me thinking about doing something I have been considering for a while, which is trying to defend Vinny Del Negro.
Dont mistake me, he is an awful coach and I hope he does not return next year, and I would not mind seeing him get fired soon. However, I think people are blaming him way too much. Therefore, I am posting about just a few things that VDN can not do anything about.
1. Defense. Well, Vinny could make better defensive schemes, and work more on rotations and effort on the defensive end, but the bottom line is that we do not have good defensive players. Martin was hyped to change all that, but while he is good on the pick and roll and at blocking from the weakside, his post presence is poor, and he never closes out on shooters. Mo Williams and Randy Foye range from very bad to below average defensively depending on the matchup, but neither is somebody who is a "stopper". Deandre Jordan is a post presence all right, but he is a terrible one on one defender, and is not good at switching out onto perimeter players or playing outside at all. Caron Butler is decent in the post, but his lack of speed has probably lead to more open 3 pointers than anyone else this year, which is a huge issue. He also gets wiped out on screens a lot. Chris Paul gets steals to start fastbreaks by overplaying the passing lanes, but in individual defense, he is not very good either. Finally, Eric Bledsoe, while a good and aggressive defender, fouls way too much, and is too small to be a true "stopper". Newcomer Nick Young is probably about league average defensively for a wing, which unfortunately makes him probably the best defender on the team. This is all without Blake Griffin, but more about him later.
2. The team is very unbalanced, and this is not necessarily due to position. Randy Foye is simply not a good scorer- he is a solid backup, but relying on him for even 10 points a night is way too much. Nick Young is a somewhat better version of him offensively, but despite contrary belief, he really is not all that great at creating his own offense. He draws fouls and hits 3s, which makes him efficient, but this only counteracts his lack of any playmaking ability whatsoever- wont see many good passes from him. Caron Butler was brought in to be a different kind of offensive player, just like Young, but he too has his drawbacks. He has been awful from the floor recently, probably due to lack of lift, but he is also too slow to attack the basket or get open, which means he relies on set plays for himself, or being wide open. Eric Bledsoe can attack the basket, but he is a bad finisher and turns the ball over a lot. He also just can not shoot the ball. Mo Williams is can create his own shot sometimes, but his lack of strength and height make it hard for him to consistently attack the basket, and he is best in the midrange game or set behind the 3 point line. That makes every single wing outside of CP3 unable to truly create a shot, and some of them (Caron, Foye, Bledsoe) are simply not even very good offensive players.
3. No scoring Big men outside of Blake (more about him later). Reggie Evans has started finishing around the basket more off of offensive rebounds, but expecting more than 2 or 3 layups or putbacks a game is too much, and even that is gravy with Reggie. Kenyon Martin, like Blake and DJ, is mostly viable offense in the fastbreak, where he can use his athleticism. His touch around the basket is poor, and his midrange shot is even worse. DeAndre Jordan has shown some flashes of a few new moves recently, but his main role is to finish off lobs, putbacks, and easy layups. Also, none of the bigs can shoot FTs whatsoever, though both DJ and Reggie seem to be improving.
4. Blake Griffin. I am going to make a whole seperate post about him soon, but the bottom line is that he is not a good offensive player in the halfcourt, or not least not a reliable option, and his defense is absurdly atrocious. If he tried at all on the glass, he could probably get 15 boards a game easily. His attitude and on court demeanor are also troublesome, as most times he seems to give the least effort out of anyone on the court, whether it is awful defensive rotations, not running back on defense, or not boxing out under the glass. He also whines and complains so much that he is probably starting to lose fouls because of it.
Anyway, I felt I might as well try to make a post if not supporting VDN, then at least asking how good this team really is.