MEMPHIS, TN - MAY 13: Chris Paul #3 and Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers converse during a timeout against the Memphis Grizzlies in Game Seven of the Western Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at FedExForum on May 13, 2012 in Memphis, Tennessee. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Okay. The Clips got bounced out of the playoffs in the second round. Most of us, at this time last year, would have been delirious at the thought of making the playoffs, nevermind making it to the second round. After the acquisition of Chris Paul of course our goals changed a bit, but... all in all, for a team assembled on the fly, the results are pretty much about as good as we could expect.
And I think we learned a lot during the strike shortened season, and maybe we learned a little more in the playoffs. I made a list. (I make a lot of lists, I like lists, they help me focus). Here's my list of things we learned in the playoffs... some of them I guess we knew at the end of the season, some we didn't. Some of the items are obvious, but maybe some are not. Feel free to disagree. It's my list, not yours.
Go make your own and put it in the thread. (Kindly leave out the "Fire Vinny" stuff. It's boring and an argument for another day. If, however you want to criticize a particular point about Clipper coaching and can link it to something in the playoffs, have at it.)
- The Clippers are overly reliant on Chris Paul. Duh. When Paul was hurt, the Clips couldn't win a game of checkers.
- Eric Bledsoe might be good. It's actually starting to make sense that the Clips dug in and kept him out of the Paul trade.
- Blake Griffin is the real thing. He went up against Zach Randolph and Tim Duncan (among others) and held his own offensively. I don't know how anyone else felt, but when he got the ball on the block, he either made the bucket or passed off when the double-team stopped him.
- Blake Griffin can play defense. He was active, aggressive and often in the right place on the defensive end (when he wasn't injured).
- Blake Griffin should shoot more jumpers. He's plenty good enough and if he goes up without hesitating it will open up the pick and roll possibilities and free himself and others inside and out.
- Blake Griffin shot 62% from the free throw line. Not great but better. and I don't think he missed a single critical bonus shot. There's no reason he can't shoot 70-75% and if he can do that... he could league the lead in scoring. (I'm serious). When was the last time a power forward did that?
- DeAndre Jordan needs coaching. Lots of it. He lacks fundamentals, confidence, etc., etc. He's been a disappointment. His shot and his free-throw shooting which were looking much much better faded. He couldn't hit anything. A ten million dollar disappointment.
- It's not news but the Clips need a long wing defender. Caron Butler was obviously injured and played only limited minutes. But there were no answers on the bench.
- Nick Young, Mo Williams, Randy Foye are all streaky, inadequate bombers. Each has his abilities, but they all have huge gaps in their games. With Williams it's a complete lack of defensive ability. With Young it's a tendency to play outside the offense (he likes to shoot... a lot) and seems too soft to driving the lane. Foye vanishes for games at a time. Actually he pretty much disappeared for both series.
- As predicted, the Clippers poor free throw shooting created wins for the other team. No team can afford four bigs who can't collectively shoot better than 50 percent.
- Kenyon Martin is a first class defender and a third class offensive player. Reggie Evans enthusiasm and rebounding are wonderful, but his complete cluelessness at the offensive end should render him plenty of dnp-cd's. Clips need some real upgrades at the big spots.
- As a team, the Clippers can actually play some defense. The day after game seven (at Citizen PV Mike's suggestion) I spent some time listening to Memphis sports radio. The Memphis guys were rueing the Clippers "tough wing defense"... especially on Rudy Gay.
- Chris Paul and Eric Bledsoe makes the Clips one of the deepest, strongest teams at the point guard position. If Bledsoe can improve his shooting and his turnvovers, he could also be a premier sixth man.
- Why can't the coaching staff design a reliable inbound play? I thought the coach's substitutions were usually okay (except when they failed to remove obviously injured Paul and Bledsoe). But did the Clips EVER score out of a timeout? Bleh.