All this week John Raffo and I are discussing the 2014 Clippers position by position. Today it's shooting guards.
Ever since the departure of Eric Gordon in the Chris Paul trade, there's been a lot of turmoil at the shooting guard position for the Clippers. From Chauncey Billups to Randy Foye to Willie Green to Chauncey Billups again, with stretches of Eric Bledsoe, Mo Williams, Nick Young, and Jamal Crawford mixed on, it is the only starting position that has lacked consistency in the last two years. With Jamal returning in his 6th man role, can the Clippers finally find a long-term solution to play alongside Chris Paul in the backcourt?
Jamal Crawford: 1 year guaranteed at 5.2 million, 2yrs/11.2million partially guaranteed
Jamal Crawford is good at what he does. He takes tough shots, but he creates his own offense. He's more than accepting of his 6th man role, and he even had one of his best shooting seasons ever last year (44% fg, 38% 3pt). He'll be back, he'll be the 6th man again, he'll be one of the Clippers' leading scorers again. Maybe he'll get the 6th man of the year award in 2014 that he earned in 2013.
On the court he looks and moves like Gollum, but off the court he's soft-spoken and intelligent. He's a shooting guard who likes to shoot and is terrific in his role as sixth man. On the negative side, he seems to understand how to defend without being very good at it.
Willie Green: 2yrs/2.8million non-guaranteed
Willie is interesting. He'd probably be a fine backup SG, but there's just not space for him with Jamal Crawford. And, like Crawford, he's less effective when slid over to the point or to forward, so the only real space for Willie is on the bench. He's a veteran and he expected that when he signed (technically a S&T) here, so I don't think he'll have an issue not getting a lot of minutes next season. Due to injuries to Chauncey Billups, who was supposed to start at SG, Green ended up starting 60 games last season, and he did admirably, shooting 43% from three and doing just about as well as you could expect him to. That said, there's no doubt that the Clippers need a better starting guard than Willie Green to take the next step as a team, so with Crawford relegated to the bench, and Green behind him, LAC will have to look outside of their current roster for their new starting SG.
Lucas just said it, but chose to ignore it. Willie Green shot 43% from behind the 3 point line. He should have started in front of Chauncey Billups and should have seen minutes in the fourth quarter. He's the BEST pure shooter on the Clips roster. He's not a great defender (but infinitely better than Billups). He was completely misused by last year's coach.
Hold on, hold on. I don't doubt that one bit. Of course Willie was a better shooter and defender than Chauncey last year. He should have been starting in the playoffs and the Clippers were better with him than with Chauncey. But that doesn't change the fact that the Clippers should look to have a better starting SG heading into next season than Willie Green.
Clippers Free Agents:
He'll probably be back, just because he's such great friends with Chris Paul, but I really think he'll hinder the team next season. That's based on how he played last season. The Clippers expected to get him back from injury, and then they'd have the whole starting lineup together and take the next step. But that never came to fruition. Billups only appeared in 19 regular season games, and only played 19 minutes a game in those, shooting worse from deep than his fill-in, Willie Green. The worst, though, was come playoff time, when Billups was abysmal, barely shooting 30% from the field in 6 games and turning the ball over at the worst times. If he has to be brought back, I hope that it's in a backup PG role after a Bledsoe trade for a real starting SG. Another season with Chauncey starting at the 2 is another season where he gets hurt and we see a lot of Willie Green.
If he's cheap enough and willing to come off the bench and play 15 to 20 minutes at POINT GUARD, then I could see bringing him back. Otherwise, sayonara.
Free Agent Wishlist:
Aaron Afflalo isn't a free agent, but he's been linked to the Clippers in trade rumors. He's a great fit- a 6'5" SG/SF who can defend and hit threes (42% in his three years as a starter in Denver before having a bad year creating his own looks in Orlando last season). Afflalo is only 27 and has a very manageable contract.
Some real free agent targets include Tony Allen, J.J. Redick, Nick Young, and Randy Foye. Everyone on that list is either not affordable or not good enough. So the Clippers will likely have to use a Bledsoe trade to upgrade this spot.
Green's adequate or slightly better and you only need him for 15 minutes. Crawford takes the rest. Trade Bledsoe for help at the sf spot.
Who will the 2014 Clippers start at SG?
I think it has to be an outsider, and I don't think it'll be a free agent, so I'll go with Aaron Afflalo just because he's been linked in rumors. Afflalo or not, it should be whomever the Clippers receive in return from a Bledsoe trade. If they stand pat, Willie Green.
Willie Freaking Green.
Who will the 2014 Clippers bring off the bench at SG?
Jamal Crawford, one of the best 6th men in basketball. And Willie Green will be down there somewhere, getting occasional minutes and hitting shots and being a pro's pro.
The Point Guards
Check back tomorrow for the Small Forwards