I watched the clippers all season long. Additionally, I have been watching and routing for the Clippers since the Danny Manning and Bo Kimble days. I am not one of those newly arrived bandwagoners...I love this team and I want them to do well. I was once a Lakers fan. Perhaps, more importantly, I am a basketball fan. I completelty gave up on the Lakers when Dr. Buss died. Mitch Cupcake is not Jerry West nor is Jerry Buss. But I digress...
The Clippers have some issues they need to contend with before they are ready to leap into the final four of NBA ecstasy. They were close, it would so appear, but in reality, not as close as we all hoped. In order for this team to make it to the conference finals and beyond, a few things have to change and establish themselves.
1. Deandre Jordan, who had a great year, has to get better. Beyond the obvious free throws and whatnot, he is the most crucial and critical element to a winning organization. In order for him to be most effective, he needs to shed the nice guy, all smiles persona, and turn into an Old School Detroit Piston Bad Boy. He needs to play with rage and anger, so anyone who thinks about taking it to the hole, thinks twice. Every great team has/had a crazy guy. IF the Clippers can make DJ into that crazy guy, this team will win trophies. His rebounding was amazing, but not so much on the offensive side of the floor. He can increase his point avage by 8 to 10 points a game by taking on that Dennis Rodman/Ben Wallace crazy guy persona. I hope this is what Doc pushes for him for next year. He doesn't need to develop a shot or any kind of offense, he just needs to play mean.
1b. Replace DTS with a new owner. This is so obvious it need not be continued.
2. Trade Chris Paul. I know, I know, he's your favorite player and he's a big commercial success for the Clippers and the NBA, but he is the most over rated player in the entire league. ...and thats a good thing for the Clippers!!! He can bring us a top flight player in a trade. The Clippers were a much more effective team with Darren Collison at the point. This was apparent to Doc as well, because he liked a line up with both players on the court but Collison handling the ball. CP is not a reliable enough shooter to player off guard. If the Clippers want an unreliable shooter, they can give more minutes to JJ Reddick. With all the value that a CP would bring in a trade, the Clippers can reinforce the weaker positions, like shooting guard and small forward, and not loose anything with Collison at the helm. It sounds painful to do so, but the CLippers will not win with CP, he never has and he never will. If you have sat court-side at a Clipper game, you know how CP berates his teammates continuously. If the Clippers didn't feel like the ball had to go through CP fist in playoff crunch time, maybe there would have been a different result.
3. Trim the fat. Hollis, Hedo, and "Super Dud Dudley" all have to go. they had their chance and they dropped the ball (much like CP did at the end of game 5...twice) so out with the old, and in with the new. Those guys took up roster spots and had zero in contribution. I thought about putting Reddick on this list, but I guess he played well when he wasn't injured. But, then again, if he is not going to be the player he once was, then whats the point of keeping him too. The Clippers can get much better replacements in at least two of these spots. And these players can be counted on in the playoffs as well.
4. Learn how to play like winners. The Clippers lost at the hands of the refs. Doc new it, he said so much, and we all felt it too. The Clippers should never have let the Refs take the game away from them in the first place. Blake Griffin can not foul out of games. The Refs are not treating him like a champion yet. When the Clippers win determinedly, the refs will begin to sway calls in their favor. I know this as I watched this for years with the Lakers. ...and you see it now with the Heat, just like we used to see it with the Bulls. Blake is the true star of this team. He will be the true determining factor on this team. CP thinks (and probably is) he is the star, and that deprives Blake's progress, and the entry into the final four. Notice how Blake's game picked up considerably when CP was benched with a shoulder injury? You have problems when two people need the ball at the same time.