Apr. 19, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard (3) Chris Paul and forward (32) Blake Griffin in the second half against the Phoenix Suns at the US Airways Center. The Suns defeated the Clippers 93-90. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE
Now that the Clips Nation staff has completed the "Exit Interview" series, Raffo and I now break down the team moving forward, position by position. Today we look at the Point Guards.
The Los Angeles Clippers head into the off-season with a ton of question marks, but one of the most stable positions is the point guard slot. Filled with returning players and ripe with free agents, the Clips will likely have no trouble filling out the roster quite nicely with PGs.
According to google, the point guard is "The backcourt player who directs the team's offense". So what does this mean? A point guard is a floor general. He has to be a good ball handler and passer, and he has to know the team's offense. The point guard is responsible for running the team on offense, much like a quarterback. He's also responsible for guarding the other team's point guard.
So what do we look for in a point guard?
- ball handling- how low he keeps turnovers
- passing- how well he assists
- shooting- how consistent his outside jumpshot is
- leadership- how well he runs the team's offense
- defense- how well he shuts down the other team's point guard
Chris Paul: 1 more season at $17.8M
CP3 is one of the best players in the world and arguably the best point guard in the league. He only averaged 2.1 turnovers a game this past season, and he totaled 9.1 assists a night. He shot 37.1% from downtown, and nearly 48% from the field. Statistically, this proves him to be an elite point guard. Paul's true greatness, however, lies in his leadership. He's unselfish and always knows what is best for the team. Many top point guards are considered an extension of the coach- to say that about Paul might give too much credit to Vinny Del Negro.
We'd all heard about how good Chris Paul was before he became a Clipper, but the quality of his play is both greater and different than what most of us expected. He's not particularly athletic, not all that quick, not all that explosive. His "handle" is solid... though, interestingly, to my mind not nearly as solid as Baron Davis'. Davis was mercurial but he could get anywhere on the court and protected the ball better than any point guard I've ever seen. He passes off the dribble were probably crisper than Paul's as well, though not nearly as accurate. Everything, everything else Paul does is superior to Davis. The way he thinks his way down the court and plays cat and mouse with defenders is stunningly effective. His positioning on defense and rebounds is unparalleled. He penetrates, dishes, and shoots with incredible alacrity. His clock management is uncanny. I've never seen a player with a more inventive, bulletproof mental game... and his will-to-win is Michael Jordan-esque.
Eric Bledsoe: 1 year remaining at $1.7M with a team option after for $2.6M
Bledsoe is a very interesting prospect. The second year guard missed the first 26 games of the shortened 2012 season with a knee injury, and his return was lackluster, to say the least. Upon the playoffs opening, however, Bledsoe became an absolute beast. The more physical play style really favored him, and his pesky defense sparked the team time and time again in their first round series win over Memphis. Bledsoe played SG in college and transitioned to the point when he was drafted by the Clippers, and it shows in his loose ball handling. Adjusted to per 48, he turns the ball over nearly twice as often as Paul. And despite his elite marksmanship in the playoffs (43% threes), Bledsoe is a below-average shooter. He is unconventional next to the pure Chris Paul, but his energy, defense, rebounding, and intangibles bring a great new element to this team off the bench.
I wasn't a believer. But I'm almost there... his play in the playoffs was an eye opener. He seems like a perfect sixth man, and a great change of pace at the point guard slot for the more methodical Paul.
Unfortunately, though his activity on defense is admirable, his size probably confines him to the bench. This fact might make him more valuable as a trade chip than as a rotation player.
Mo Williams: Player option for $8.5M (expected to accept)
Williams is the odd man out in the Clippers' back court. Just 10 months after being traded from Cleveland to become the new lead guard for the young, sexy Clippers, Williams found himself behind all-nba point Chris Paul and former finals MVP Chauncey Billups on the depth chart. Ultimately, Billups was moved to shooting guard, but Mo was not the same this season as he was in years past. Despite offensive numbers that would seem up to par (13ppg, 3apg, 43%FG, 39%3PT), Williams often interrupted the Clippers' offensive flow, chucking and freezing out other players. Mo was also terrible defensively this season, and it doesn't seem practical to give him major minutes that would hinder Bledsoe's development. Williams will likely pick up his option, as he doesn't stand to make 8.5 million on the free agency market at this point in his career. He will be in trade talks during the draft and free agency.
I agree. He can shoot, he's expensive, and too much of a liability on defense. The Clippers simply have too many small guards and desperately need more size in the backcourt. Williams is a point guard in name only. He can handle the ball, but his passing is perfunctory and uninspired. The Clips have better options off the bench in Eric Bledsoe and possibly Chauncey Billups.
The Clippers should not need to pursue any free agent PGs.
Right. Unless they decide to move Bledsoe.
Who will the 2013 Clippers start at point guard?
Who will the 2013 Clippers bring off the bench at point guard?
Eric Bledsoe, and perhaps a 2nd round pick/ low-impact free agent.
Bledsoe makes the most sense... but I don't think we should forget the possibility that Chauncey Billups might be back as well. He can move from the one to the two whenever needed. A Chris Paul/healthy Chauncey Billups combo at the point guard spot would be pretty hard to beat. And Billups, who's bigger than Paul or Bledsoe, probably helps ameliorate some of the size issues in the Clip's backcourt.
Check back tomorrow for the Shooting Guards