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The Myth of Too Many Big Men


As much as I'm good with the Do Nothing strategy in place, I'm getting frustrated at the poor analysis of the Clipper situation.  Given the fact that the Griffin pick is giving the team a lot attention, it would be nice of somebody would do some actual work and spend time thinking about the Clippers and their prospects.

Two things jump out at me.  They more than jump out--they're really starting to bug me.

1.  20-10 guys don't grow on trees.  You don't just give them away and moving them requires, as MDSr says, "basketball decisions" of a sophisticated kind.  So far, so good.  But no one is connecting the dots between all of the minutes missed by the Clippers primary big men the last 2 years and the fact that they can't have too many guys at the 4 and 5.  The Clippers gave substantial minutes 07-08 minutes to Josh Powell (1228) and Tim Thomas (1940), backup Paul Davis played 194 mins before his ACL, FElton played 274 minutes in 8 games, and Kaman 2.0 barely topped 2000 (2083) in 56 games.  Nick Fazekas (220), Aaron Williams (297) and Ruben Patterson (327) were low level scrubs we saw too much.  Last year Kaman played 921 mediocre minutes in 31 games, Camby made it to 1925 in 62 games, and Zbo 1369.  By contrast, FElton played 3077 and 3099 mins in 05/06 and 06/07.

It would be great if Blake Griffin is phenomenal and can get up towards 3000 minutes, but it's not going to happen for him as a rookie.  Eric Gordon managed 2654 last year in 78 games with a slow start.  Al Thornton played 2677 last year in 71 games, and he played 2158 as in 79 games as a rookie, a lot of those out of position at PF.

The moral of the story is that it would be great if Blake Griffin plays between 2200 and 2500 minutes.  Let's say, rounding off and counting overtimes, that there are 7800 minutes to go around between the two positions.  That means that the Clips have to get 5300 to 5600 minutes out of Kaman, Camby, and Randolph.  And that's not counting DeAndre Jordan or Steve Novak, let alone Brian Skinner.

So say that the Clips get 1500 minutes out of all three guys, and 1000 minutes go to DJordan.  Maybe one guy plays more, one guy plays less.  What happens to the logjam when one guy gets hurt?  Is there a problem?  Will we find ourselves saying, when Camby is out X number of games, and Kaman has been traded away, that the Clips are thin up front?

2.  Deandre Jordan is a major factor in the myth of too many big men, but it has been like he doesn't exist for the last two weeks.  I'm probably more outraged than I would be about this because of SP's excellent work comparing DJordan to Thabeet after the combine measurements came in.  DJordan's role is where the minutes get tricky, but it's almost like a bonus question, because literally no one is mentioning him, he didn't appear on any ESPN graphics, no one wondered where he might have gone in this draft if he had stayed in school for another year like Blake Griffin did, nada.  The only person who mentioned him is Blake Griffin, who knows him well from growing up the same age in the same region.  No one is talking, even in the new article about the Clips three years down the road with Gordon and Griffin, about how DJordan is also 20 and should complement Griffin extremely well, perhaps for a very long time.  The DJordan-Griffin-Gordon combo is one of the very best things about the Clippers' luck in the lottery.

DJordan could use an increase in minutes next season, but his growth curve seems to coincide well with the timetable of automatic departures, starting with Camby at the end of the coming season, and Randolph the year after.  There will be plenty of minutes for him soon enough.

He'll be hard to miss as part of the DJordan-Griffin-Thornton-Gordon-Taylor lineup at the summer league in a couple of weeks.  It should be funny to see people remember him all of a sudden.  The Clipper fortunes have been rising quickly and steadily, and even though it seems like they're getting a lot of attention, the analysts are missing a number of very important stories.  I'll add one more:  we can expect to see Eric Gordon playing a lot of point guard in the summer league.