Now that the Clips Nation staff has completed the "Exit Interview" series, Steve and I now break down the team moving forward, position by position. Today we look at the Small Forwards.
Anybody remember Chris Kaman? You know, the Clippers starting center for as long as I can remember? He was around these parts for a long time, and then when he went out in the Chris Paul trade, and second-round project DeAndre Jordan stepped into the starting lineup- with a starter's salary to boot. Last season, DJ was clearly not ready for the spotlight of starting on a contender. While he is sure to get better this summer, the Clippers should definitely be interested in grabbing a backup center who can the be the third big, play PF and C, and spell DJ during his worse performances.
I can't really look up the google definition for "center". It's a widely used term.
What do we look for in a center?
- rebounding- how effectively he boxes out and releases for the ball
- finishing- how strongly he finishes around the rim
- mid-range jumpshot- how well he converts from 10-18 feet
- positioning- how strongly he fights for position in the post
- shot blocking- how well he protects the rim
DeAndre Jordan: 3yrs/33million remaining
This season, DJ was, well, underwhelming. I'm a DJ apologist. But he wasn't what the Clippers needed this season. He wasn't terrible, and Vinny limited him too much, but he still needed to play better. I say that he needed to play better. Not that he should have played better. Because realistically, I think he played as well as I could have expected him to. But the fact is that DJ this season was not good enough. I think he will continue to improve. DJ has to add weight and strength to establish better position. He needs to remain disciplined on the weak side (although there isn't a whole ton to complain about there). DJ's biggest strength is his length, and his biggest weakness is his strength (oh the irony). Remember him against LaMarcus Aldridge? Yeah, good defense. Andrew Bynum? Eh...
Let's go big picture. Nobody really expected anything out of DeAndre Jordan when he was drafted in the second round four years ago. He didn't start in his only college season and, though he was wonderfully athletic, with long arms and great jumping ability, he was incredibly raw. As a Clipper he got Chris Kaman's injury minutes but wasn't very good. His second year it was more of the same. Third year, he got better, played 25 minutes a game and showed real promise. It was enough to give him a big contract in the off-season. But here's the thing, has DJ really improved all that much. Look at his stats for his first four years. Focus on his "per-36" numbers. They're even! For his first four years he's averaged right around ten points and eleven rebounds a game, no matter what he's been paid, no matter whether he's started, no matter how many minutes he's played.
Is this some sort of illusion? Maybe. In fairness his PER has moved up every year (16.4 this year, a little better than average). And we saw him improve, right? Rightt!
So what should we expect this year? I'm not sure. He got in Vinny Del Negro's doghouse last year (probably deservedly). He seems to work hard but his big paycheck didn't make him any better. (Don't misunderstand me, I have no problem with his big contract other than it hems the Clips in a bit in the long run. Remember, DeAndre was woefully underpaid (around $800k) his first three years.)
DeAndre Jordan needs a full offseason and he needs better coaching. For whatever reason he didn't get better last year and the Clippers should be asking Jordan and themselves "why".
Clippers Free Agents:
Kenyon Martin: unrestricted coming off of a 1yr/$2.5mil contract
KMArt was exactly what this team needed. He could play PF and C, he could make a mid-range jumpshot, he could defend, he brought veteran presence- I can't speak highly enough of his on-court contributions when he was motivated. That said, I don't think he will be back. He refused to go back into Game 4 of the Spurs series when DJ picked up his 5th foul. He brought effort half the time. Martin will demand more money next season than the Clippers will have to offer an aging PF.
I don't care about the Game four Spurs game. The Clipper coaching staff did absolutely nothing to change the outcome of that series, Chris Paul was injured, Blake Griffin was worn down. Done. But how much is Kenyon Martin worth on the free agent market? Mid-level? I doubt it. $4M a year? That's Gomes money. The mysterious guy who will become the Clippers GM would be dumb not to pay that kind of money for the guy who was the Clips best defender and best big off the bench last year.
I know Reggie Evans is on the power forward list, but he spent a lot of minutes at the center spot. He's was a cheap Bandaid this year. It wouldn't surprise me if he did time at the center spot again next season, but what the Clipper's really need is a big backup center.
Free Agent Wishlist:
Duncan's a pipe dream. Garnett isn't coming to play behind Jordan and Griffin. Actually I think Asik has all the things the Clips need. He's seven foot, he's from Turkey.
Who will the 2013 Clippers start at C?
The new improved DeAndre Jordan.
Who will the 2013 Clippers bring off the bench at C?
A free agent? A second round draft pick? This is really up in the air. I don't think it will be KMart.
Yeah, someone else. The Clippers were too small off the bench last year, I'd like to see a true seven-footer who can play ten or fifteen minutes, give you five fouls, and body up guys like Marc Gasol and Andrew Bynum. Ideally he would be a guy from an eastern European country with an unpronounceable name.
The Point Guards
The Shooting Guards
The Small Forwards
The Power Forwards
That's it! See you in November and we'll see if Raffo and I were right!