As has been much discussed , the Clippers need a new head coach. But it's got to be an elite coach who understands how to develop players, to help them emphasize their best tools and further develop their games.
So much has been said about Deandre being a big disappointment this year, but what about Blake? This season was by far the least impressive Blake has ever been in the nba on the offensive end, and it came with the brilliant Chris Paul running the point. Something is wrong with this picture. True, Blake worked on and improved his jump shot this year. But the problem is that jump shots don't need to be a primary part of your arsenal when you're a power forward with the physical gifts to be an amazing presence inside, and dominate closer to the basket. He took TOO MANY jump shots this year, and was not nearly the factor that we needed him to be down low, unless he was matched up against especially weak defenses, or had the occasional short stretch of brilliance. The same goes for rebounding, he should be dominating on the boards every night given his physical tools and competitiveness.
One of my biggest concerns with the Clippers is what's going to happen with Blake Griffin at this point in his career; will he be a generational superstar who will be remembered as an icon of the position, ala Karl Malone, or will he be an exciting and generally serviceable complement to Chris Paul, who then fizzles out as he ages and athleticism becomes less of an advantageous factor?
In my mind it would be a travesty to see him not take his game to the next level, because he can and should do it. And clearly he wants to do it. But he needs great coaching to put him in a position to best utilize the unique combination of his strength, finesse, and ball handling, that complement his athleticism. He doesn't like to bang down low, but he needs to do more of that, because he's got the strength, power and athleticism combo to overmatch other big men on a nightly basis, even guys like Zach Randolph. He's not using his skills in tandem, in a dynamic way, in the best ways... because his head coach is not an "Xs and Os" guy. Well, "Xs and Os", in addition to a winning team concept, is exactly what Blake Griffin needs, along with DJ, Bledsoe, and even Chris Paul. These guys are hard workers but things should be easier for all of them on the court during games, following the right off the court work and practice sessions. It's about understanding roles and exploiting matchups to your advantage in a methodical way on offense and defense (without micro-managing to the point of taking away creativity), on every possession... probably Del Negro's greatest weakness (and the greatest strength of guys like Popovitch, Thibodeau, and Rivers). Please please please bring us somebody who gets this and can take Blake and the other guys to the next level.