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Battle for LA: Clippers vs. Lakers! (Part 2)

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In the Part 1 of our matchup of the two Los Angeles NBA franchises LJ Hann, Steve Perrin and I compared the two teams position by position. We all thought Clips were better at point guard, small forward, and power forward, and the Lakers were better at shooting guard and center. We thought the Clippers had the better bench and I thought the Lakers had better coaching, while LJ and Steve think the coaching is either a wash or doesn't matter. Overall, I had the Clips winning the matchup at 4-3. LJ and Steve had the Clips at 4-2.

But, really, is that a fair way to look at things? Most people would say that Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard are so much better than their Clipper counterparts that the matchup seemed patently unfair. So I thought we should give every player a grade and add them up. This is, of course, not scientific at all... the grades are completely subjective... and what qualifies us to hand out grades?

Actually, Steve was so upset about the notion that he simply got his towel and left the pool, saying this, "I'm not giving grades, mostly because I don't want to. The other reason is because for the Lakers the biggest question will be how the pieces fit, and individual grades won't address that. My overall impression is that adding the parts together, the Lakers win the comparison -- but does the actual whole equal more or less than the sum of the parts? Only playing the season will tell us that."

Well okay. LJ and I will do it. Right, LJ? LJ?

(I think it's fairly obvious this two-part post was designed as something fun to do during the long offseason. It certainly was not designed to bait Laker fans or create division between ourselves and our Laker-brethren. Many (most) of our friends are Laker fans, some of us have family members who are Laker fans. But as Laker fans appeared in the Clipsnation thread the other day, I thought the conversation devolved precipitously. Let's try and not let that happen again. Laker fans are welcome here. But they have to understand this is a Clipper fan blog. Conversely, if you're going over to Silver Screen and Roll, you'd best be prepared to take some heat. But let's be gracious with each other. We are one of only two metropolitan areas fortunate enough to have two NBA franchises. How great would it be if the rivalry between the Clips and Lakers were a yearly thing?)

PG -
JR - Chris Paul - 96. Steve Nash - 90. A couple of years ago, the numbers might have been reversed.

LJ - Chris Paul - 95, Steve Nash - 83. I can't justify giving Nash higher than that because of how terrible he is on one half of the court. Offensively, Nash is just about as good as Paul.

SG -
JR - Crawford/Billups - 81. Kobe Bryant - 93. Harsh? I don't know, Billups is probably out of position at the two and Crawford would be best used off the bench. Both of them had something like 16 PER's last year. I took a tick off Kobe because he's not going to score as much with Nash in the backcourt (and because I can't stand him).

LJ - Crawford- 73, Billups- 82, Bryant - 88. It depends what Kobe you get. 10-16 for 32 Kobe or 3-30 for 18 Kobe. Crawford is like a worse Kobe, and at least Billups brings a sense of leadership and veteran cool to the court that the Clippers lack elsewhere at SG.

SF -
JR - Caron Butler - 84. Metta World Peace - 77. Peace was really bad last year and has been fading for a while now. Butler should improve slightly.

LJ - Butler - 75, Metta World Peace - 68. Peace is simply not that good anymore. The Lakers certainly regret that long-term contract. Butler isn't that good either, and the Clippers certainly regret his contract, but he is still a passable starter. MWP not so much.

PF -
JR - Blake Griffin - 92, Pau Gasol 90. That's a slightly improved Griffin and a Nash influenced Pau Gasol (last year's scores would have been 91 and 87).

LJ - Blake Griffin 90, Pau Gasol 84. Maybe Nash will make Pau better. This number is Blake at the end of last season. If he can get one of the following: post game, jump shot, free throw, then he will be much, much, better.

Center -
JR - DeAndre Jordan 78, Dwight Howard 93. I tried to be optimistic and gave Jordan some extra points for hopeful improvement. But Jordan's backup is Ryan Hollins which isn't helping. I took Howard down a couple of ticks because he's coming off what seems to be a pretty serious injury and might not make the season opener.

LJ - Jordan - 75, Howard - 92. Jordan won't be able to do much against Howard. I had Bynum at 88 and it's fair to say that Howard is better without blowing Bynum out of the water. It's that simple.

Bench -
JR - Clippers 91, Lakers 78. Jamison's better than anyone they had last year and Jordan Hill's decent. The 91 would make the Clips one of the best benches in the league. With Hill, Odom, and Crawford I think they deserve that. If Bledsoe plays like he did in the playoffs... they could be even better.

LJ - Clippers - 80, Lakers 65. Lower scores for worse players. But I think between Bledsoe, Hill, and Odom I can justify an 80 for LAC. And between Blake, Jamison, and Hill, a 65 seems about right. Compared to the other benches, the Clippers would be higher, but I'm looking at it in terms of how I would rate the players if they were in the starting lineup.

Coaching -
JR - Clippers 79, Lakers 85. At least Brown coaches some defense. I gave Vinny extra points because he's got Hill, Billups, and Paul (naked he gets an F). And I gave the Lakers two points for Nash and a point for Jordan.

LJ - Clippers 0, Lakers 0. Again, no winners here. And no winners in most places in the league. The NBA doesn't have bad coaching- it simply doesn't have coaching. Popovich and a couple others coach. That's it. And is Mike Brown really rolling with the Princeton offense with Dwight Howard and Steve Nash? Either build a team for your system (San Antonio), or build a system for your team (Clippers with P&R for CP3). Don't just have both and not worry if they go together. Can I give negatives?

JR - Clippers 601, Lakers 606. Damn. This result pains me but it seems fair. Of course if I threw in another category, like "potential", I'd give the Clipper a higher grade than the Lakers, but that seems a little bogus.

LJ - Clippers 492.5, Lakers 480. Still close. If you make that into a game score, it's something like 98-96. So there's wiggle room either way- especially if the Lakers land Kenyon Martin.

That's it. My colleagues are a little shocked at the length and windiness of this story but I love grades, head-to-head comparisons, stuff like that. Anyway it's the off-season, free-agency's just about done, the Olympics are over and training camp is seven weeks away. What better do we have to do?

I'm looking forward to hearing everyone's grade and I'm sure we'll all disagree. We do that well, and we generally do it with spirit and humor. In the word's of Oliver Wendell Holmes: "We should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions we loathe."