Now that the Clips Nation staff has completed the "Exit Interview" series, Raffo and I now break down the team moving forward, position by position. Today we look at the Shooting Guards.
A year ago, we thought that SG was the Clipper's second-best position, and would be for the next decade. One Eric Gordon-for-Chris Paul swap later, and the SG position has yet to recover. There are a lot of possibilities for the Clippers here.
According to google, the Shooting Guard is "A guard who is depended on to shoot more and handle the ball less than the point guard; often a good three-point shooter." Now, there's more to it than that. A shooting guard should be versatile- either a combo guard who can handle the ball and play a little point or a wing who can slash and drive and play some SF.
So what do we look for in a SG?
- good three point shooter- how well he shoots the ball
- solid slasher/finisher- how he drives to the basket
- solid ball handler/passer- how well he runs the point
- above average perimeter defender- how he plays individual and team perimeter defense
- versatility- how many positions can he play
Travis Leslie: 2 unguaranteed years remaining totaling $1.6M
It's hard to know much about the rookie shooting guard after his first season. He didn't play a lot, and when he did the minutes were meaningless, making evaluation difficult. He's supposedly a crazy athlete, and he has all the tools to be a good defender. It's safe to say that he isn't ready to contribute next season, and will likely find himself assigned to the d-league again- if he even makes the roster.
Unless he makes great strides in summer league and camp, I don't see him making the roster.
Clippers Free Agents:
Chauncey Billups: Unrestricted coming off a 1yr/$2M contract
The former finals MVP brought a lot to the Clippers before he tore his Achilles mid way through the regular season. Despite his inefficient FG shooting, he could get to the free throw line and hit threes. Chauncey isn't "Mr. Big Shot" for nothing. He seems to always make his move at the time when the team needs it most, right down to his game winning three against the Mavericks this season. Even though he was a point guard all his career, I expect Chauncey to return to the Clippers to play SG. Will he be the starter is the question.
I'm in favor of holding on to Billups... at the right price. But he's a thirty-seven and coming back from serious injury. "If" might be as valid a question as "when". He'd lost a step and didn't have much athleticism before the injury... it's hard to know what's left. But he has a great head for the game and despite his lost skills he was a decent defender and a tough late minutes player.
Randy Foye: Unrestricted coming off a 2yr/$8.5M contract
Randy was a stopgap for this team, and he did his job in his two seasons with the Clippers. He made threes, he had huge games, and he stepped into the starting role this season after Chauncey went down. Foye kept up his hot shooting and kept his spot in the starting lineup even when Nick Young came into town and was expected to start. But he isn't a part of this team long-term. Randy is streaky and inconsistent. I don't expect him to be back, and while it's hard for me to say, I don't think he should be back. I'll miss him, though.
Randy Foye is a conundrum. He LOOKS like a great basketball player. He's super-athletic, smart, he's big and strong, quick. But the parts somehow don't add up to the whole. If the Clips determine that Billups WILL be back but isn't ready, perhaps Foye comes back as a backup.
Nick Young: Coming off a 1yr/$3.7M Qualifying Offer
Nick Young is the newest Clipper, and he could very well be in the picture for a long time moving forwards. Let's be honest. The fan favorite "Swaggy P" doesn't rebound. He doesn't really pass (not that he's a black hole, but he doesn't make passes that result in scores). But man oh man, the kid can shoot the basketball. He shot 39.8% from three in his 33 games as a Clipper this season. He isn't too shabby an isolation defender either. Team defense... well, that's another thing. I expect him to be back, I want him to be back. He could be the starting shooting guard, the backup shooting guard, or the backup small forward... we'll see.
Nick Young plays like a rookie or second year player... only he's 27 and headed into his sixth year. He can shoot but his shot selection is terrible. He doesn't drive to the basket and doesn't get to the foul line. His career rebound average is under two and his assist average is under one. All that said, he gives the Clippers more than anyone else on the roster at the two spot... and one figures that playing next to Chris Paul is a better situation than he's ever been in in before. The real question with Young, who seems as though he'd love to return to LA, is how much will it take to sign him. The Clips can pay him around 4.5 Million (120% of last year's salary) without using the mid-level. But Young was looking for a big payday last year and failed to get it, signing a one year deal. Will he take less to sign with the Clips?
Free Agent Wishlist:
Courtney Lee (RFA)
O.J. Mayo (RFA)
Eric Gordon (RFA)
Landry Fields (RFA)
Allen will probably cost the Mid-level exception. I doubt the Rockets will let Lee go. Danny Green is unrestricted? Was he good because he got plugged into a great system or is he really good?
Who will the 2013 Clippers start at shooting guard?
I think an outsider will get the job. Possibly Ray Allen, but I would still be happy with a Danny Green-type player who can defend and hit shots.
Nick Young. It's a guess.
Who will the 2013 Clippers bring off the bench at shooting guard?
Chauncey Billups should be the backup 2-guard. He can play alongside Bledsoe. I feel like those two fit well together. While Chauncey is still hurt, I expect Nick Young to get minutes at the backup SG as well as SF. I don't think that Travis Leslie stands a chance to crack the rotation. I'm not sure that he even lands a roster spot.
Randy Foye on a minimum contract, until Billups returns in March, and Mo Williams will see time, probably a lot of it if he's still around at the two as well. I hate this, but without a (creative) GM, and a limited crop of free agents, I think the Clips will probably punch Foye's ticket again.
Check back tomorrow for The Small Forwards