Occam's Razor states that all things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the best one.
I live and die with the Clippers. I spend way too much time thinking, talking and writing about them. Some times it's hard for me keep it simple.
The ClipperWidow recently spent about 5 minutes watching a game. It was during the road trip, probably against the Wizards or Hawks. She asked where Sam was, and I said he was injured. She said, "Well that's their problem. Cassell's the only player on that team that has any idea how to win." After they won the two games when he came back, she said, "See? I told you."
Unfortunately, the three games since then don't really support this view, but still....
Then I was talking to my dad on the phone today. He knows hoops, but again, has more distance from the Clippers than I do (duh). He says it's Brand. Brand was a legitimate MVP candidate last year, and he's not close to that this year. And there you go. You take an MVP candidate off a team and replace him with a really nice player, and you go from game 7 of the Conference Semi's to somewhere under .500, hoping for the 8th playoff spot.
The fact that I had that conversation with my dad, and then citizen mp posted an EB 05-06 diary a few minutes later was a little eerie. When was the last time we saw EB really explode for a dunk? Does anyone remember an explosive, dominating finish this season?
John Hollinger will tell that this is exactly what he expected. Elton's 05-06 numbers are the anomaly, his career numbers are 20-10, not 25-10, and this is his 8th season. It's unrealistic to expect 25-10 when he's really a 20-10 guy.
But wait a minute. How did he go from 20 to 25 last year? Was it a total fluke, in which case we might very well expect him to revert? But it wasn't a fluke, it was primarily due to the addition of a jump shot to his offensive arsenal. Did he lose the jump shot? No. On the contrary, he looks better than ever on that shot. Indeed, he's shooting over 55% this season, after shooting a career best 52.7% last season. But he's taking 4 fewer shots per game, and he particularly seems to disappear in the fourth quarter.
Why is taking fewer shots? Is he seeing more double teams? Well, sure. But then you'd expect his assist numbers to be up - they're not. Besides, Elton saw lots of doubles in the fourth quarter of big games last season, and he didn't disappear like this.
Are his teammates forgetting him? Seems unlikely. Why would they? Besides, if EB wants the ball, and isn't getting it, he should in everyone's grill screaming 'Give me the damn ball!'
There's just an aggressiveness that missing from EB this season. I can't explain it better than that. He has all the same skills, but not the same passion. Maybe he's tired. Maybe he's distracted by what's happening to his buddy Corey.
So the Clippers best player is not as good as he was last year. If the simplest answer is the correct answer, it doesn't get any simpler than that.