It's that time of year again, when player previews, projections, and premonitions about the coming NBA season are everywhere. Did you know that all NBA bloggers are genuine psychics and you should definitely listen to them? Well, it's true. I'm no different. In this post I lay some of my opinions, and they are meant to be taken very seriously.
So, what's the deal with these Los Angeles Clippers? How do you feel about them as individuals, and are you at all worried about the state of their immortal souls? Well, we don't have to get that deep, but we can if you want. Here, I'll discuss my take on the gentlemen that make up the guaranteed roster. So, meet your 2014-15 Clippers...as I see them.
Chris Paul - Guard
There is a distinct timeline among Clippers fans: Before Chris Paul and After Chris Paul. Some may argue that drafting Blake Griffin in 2009 was the turning point for the franchise, but a few mundane seasons post-Blake point to one thing: basketball reasons.* It wasn't until the Clippers shipped Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu and that wiggly ole ragamuffin Chris Kaman out that things really changed around here, and don't you ever forget it.
Chris was a big-time bummer in last season's playoffs, but I'm not going to hold that against the most important player the Clippers have ever had and maybe the best point guard in the world. The part-time insurance salesman (or something) has never made it out of the second round of the playoffs in his nine-year career, and I have to believe that ugly statistic won't be around much longer.
*Remember how much fun all of this was? Whether or not you believe the Clippers truly and maniacally stole CP3 from the clutches of the Lakers is no matter to me. I wouldn't care if the truth of it was that Neil Olshey crept in to the Lakers facility late one night, snatched Chris Paul, stuffed him in a bag, slung him over his shoulder and ran away. I got the phrase "basketball reasons" tattooed above my heart that day.
J.J. Redick - Guard
Shall I compare this dude to a summer's day? Because he's probably better looking than the person Shakespeare wrote that sonnet about (hope you guys like 16th century poetry references in your NBA reads!).
There are two things I know about NBA players who use hair gel: they look like the villain in a 90s-era high school movie and they're probably good three-point shooters. This handsome (blue) devil shot nearly 40% from distance last season, but played a measly 35 games because of assorted injuries. So, there are two things I expect from Redick this season: healthy wrists and perhaps some experimentation with mousse instead of gel. I wanna see those shots and them locks flowing! I want his shot as sharp as his jawline!
Matt Barnes - Forward
Lamar Odom aside, Matt Barnes is my favorite former Clipper/future Laker/former Clipper/Laker of all time. Another hair-gelled wonder, Barnes is the equivalent of the high school villain's more athletic friend. He's as quick to the side of a teammate in distress as a referee is to their whistle to give him a T, and lest we forget, he literally smiled in the face of a potential jab from Serge Ibaka. Barnes is scary, but I need him to be scarier. He's the only real tough-guy on a team of Barkley-billed softies and floppers, and I need Boneyard Barnes to remind opponents that yes, he will flop. Into your face. With his fist.
Blake Griffin - Forward
This portion of the post is sponsored by Kia Optima, the official vehicle of the NBA.
With Blake, you always know what you're getting: a filling, healthy and delicious Subway (TM) sandwich, an energizing Red Bull (TM) beverage, and some fun times playing video games from Game Fly (TM)! Oh, and dunks--don't forget the dunks.
Surely, Blake will continue to give 'em the ol' razzle dazzle, because after all, are you not entertained? Is this not why you are here? But with a steadily improving jumper and an ever-widening array of post moves, Blake Griffin looks poised and ready to contend for the MVP award again, and more importantly, get Chris Paul (and himself) out of that 2nd-round playoff exit slump.
And if he has to jump over an affordable yet stylish sedan in the process, you gotta believe he's ready.
DeAndre Jordan - Center
The man's government name is Hyland DeAndre Jordan, Jr., but for some reason we just call him DJ. I have two facts for you to prove that DJ is kind of a real superhero: he is the longest tenured Clipper, and one of the only players to survive Mike Dunleavy Sr.'s last coaching stint in the NBA. Really, I looked it up: all but four players who played a full season for the Clippers under Dumbleavy (never gets old) are no longer active. And one of those four is Elton Brand, who, as we all know, is hanging on by a thread and hardly counts.
DJ is solid as a rock on defense and a rebounding connoisseur. And like the true centers of old, the only thing between him and routine 20-point nights is the free throw line. While he'll never be Stocktonesque in that regard (well, or in any regard, really) I hang on to hope that he'll one day be as good at the penalty stripe as he is at doing back flips into the sea (which is to say, at least mediocre).
on the way.
Jamal Crawford - Guard
"Nooo," I cried, as Jamal Crawford sent an impossible 30-foot jumper into the air with 15 seconds remaining on the shot clock.
"Oh. Um. Yesss!" I exclaimed as it inexplicably fell through the net.
And that is all the Jamal Crawford analysis you'll ever need. You can call Jamal the "Crawkpot," as commentator Mike Smith suggests, because he's always cookin'. Get it? Ha! Or, as I suggest, because he's cookin' sometimes, like special events and holidays, but there are also times you come home to a pot of cold beans because the stinkin' Crawkpot never turned on.
It'll be interesting to see what recipes this good-natured Crawkpot of ours serves up this season -- oh, wait, that gives me an idea. Just call Jamal Crawford "The Waiter," because he's serving everybody in here!
I agree that this part has gone on long enough. Hoping for the best from Jamal, but expecting the expected.
Jordan Farmar - Guard
Okay, here we go with this guy.
An LA native and former Bruin, Farmar is one of the many former Laker greats the Clippers have mercilessly stolen over the years in order to achieve success. You hear that, everyone? We've captured another one! Buahaha!
Farmar will be charged with filling the speedy shoes of Darren Collison, who bolted for $$greener$$ pastures this summer. Farmar's had some trouble sticking on an NBA roster in recent years, with stints in Israel and Turkey on his resume, which to me means that we'd better hope to God that Chris Paul doesn't miss any significant time this season. That would make things ugly--Farmar ugly.
Glen Davis - Forward
Alright, raise your hand if you think it's strange that Big Baby's proper name is actually "Glen." Don't act like you're not caught a bit off-guard when you see it in print like that. He's the most un-Glen looking Glen I can imagine, and it says something about you when the moniker "Big Baby" suits you better than your given name.
Baby returns to the Clippers this season along with his 1-inch vertical leap and Olympic-level keyboard-throwing skills. He got put in-time out by Doc Rivers once last season, so it'll be interesting to see if any temper tantrums are thrown this time around. I'll be honest here, I'm not a huge fan of Big Baby's. I think that backup 4-spot would be better served by non-guaranteed man Joe Ingles, or Ekpe Udoh, or myself, or any one of you dear readers.
Baby lost about 20 pounds in the offseason, but as Doc Rivers said, that's like throwing a deck chair off the Queen Mary. What's a measly 20 to a near 300-pounder? Perhaps Big Baby will surprise me this season, after going through a full training camp and preseason with the team. As Clippers fans are wont to do, I'm just gonna close my eyes and hope for the best.
Spencer Hawes - Center
A new addition to the Clippers, Spencer Hawes has been called the biggest free agent signing of the summer aside from LeBron James (by Matt Barnes). Hawes brings a certain je ne sais quoi to the team that it hasn't seen since the days of Chris Kaman...and by that, of course, I mean a 7-footer with a good free throw shooting percentage and a nice outside game. Except, Hawes outside game is a little more than nice--he shot near 42% from deep last season. So consider the floor stretched.
Hawes is a Seattle guy, referenced by his Instagram handle, spenceneedle (I see what you did there, buddy). As such, Hawes has a standing relationship with fellow Seattlelite (Seattleian?) Jamal Crawford. Hawes attended Crawford's wedding this summer, along with many of his new Clippers teammates. And considering that the Clippers are a team who are open about their off-the-court friendships, it's good to see Hawes fitting in.
Seattle We Made!!! I see nothing but trouble behind me.. #CrawfordWedding #staytune
Reggie Bullock - Guard
The 2nd-year player out of North Carolina appeared in just 43 games last season, and his biggest highlight of the year was appearing in a Blake Griffin highlight. Still, the big guard is in contention for a coveted spot in the rotation at the 3. I think it remains to be seen whether or not he's trustworthy off the bench, but that's what all this preseason action is for! Plus, when you're starting the season with no-to-low expectations, there's nowhere to go but up.
I wish I had something funnier to say about Reg, but he's left absolutely no impression on me. He needs to jack some of CDR's personality. Hey--speaking of...
Chris Douglas-Roberts - Guard
...SHORT-SHORTS AND WACKY HAIR!
Sideshow Bob Douglas-Roberts has come in kind of like a wrecking ball, and dammit if we don't love him for it. But, I'm gonna call it like it is here and say that CDR isn't bringing back short-shorts at all, he's just wearing regular shorts that are a size too small. Just pull them down a little, dude.
Plus, the fall of the baggy-short in the NBA is inevitable anyway. It's like the evolution of corn rows: when they were hot, they were hot, and they were played out long before Allen Iverson finally decided to let them go. Still, CDR seems like a sassy kind of guy whose shenanigans we're sure to enjoy throughout the season.
Ekpe Udoh - Forward
You may know free agent pickup Ekpe Udoh from such films as, Constantly Being Autocorrected to "Elle" On My Phone and Whoa, He Has a Book Club? Tell Me More About That!
Ekpe is just your standard 6'10" backup forward who averages about three and a half rebounds per game and encourages you to read! He hosts a book club on Twitter, aptly called Ekpe's Book Club, whose website proclaims that if he can play in the NBA and still find time to read, so can you. Well, for me it's more a question of, can I read and still find time to play in the NBA? But I get his gist.
Spoiler alert: first up in this season's installment of #EkpesBookClub is "The Goldfinch." Hell yeah.
Hedo Turkoglu - Forward
For one reason or another (probably his age), Hedo is always billed as the old guy on the team who we love to make fun of for being so damn old. A reporter laughed on media day and said to Turk, "you've been around the league for a long time, a loooong time!" and everyone chuckled and it would actually have been a nice moment if Hedo's feelings didn't seem so hurt.
But I have some breaking news that is exclusive to Clips Nation (nope and nope): Hedo's only a year older than Matt Barnes and Jamal Crawford, and he and Crawford have each played in the league for 14 years. So, that is to say, adjust your expectations for Hedo Turkoglu this season! He should make at least as much of a contribution as Barnes and Crawford, given his youthfulness. He's second unit status, gonna be raining threes and crossing dudes over -- the Turkish Blur is what we'll call him! Because, after all, you're only as old as you feel, right Hedo?
C.J. Wilcox - Guard
Basically the next Kobe is all I'm gonna say about this late first-rounder. What am I basing that on? Literally nothing. I just felt like saying it. If you say enough things, eventually some of the things are gonna have to be true, no? And then I can brag!
I'm glad that the Clippers have come to a point in their franchise history where they don't have to rely on their rookies to carry them through the season, let alone play at all. We're like a full-grown NBA team now! Wee! Wilcox has all the fixings to be a solid shooting guard in the NBA, so we'll see what he can show us in garbage time.
Also, in the first documented case of rookie hazing for the season, Wilcox dressed up as young Michael Jackson when the team went to see Michael Jackson ONE during training camp in Vegas last week. Check his getup out in the front of this group photo and again with Spencer Hawes. Such a pretty young thing!
The Michael Jackson Experience! #DoYouRememberTheTime the rook dressed up as Young Michael! #TrainingCamp #Clips
At the One show in Vegas with the young Husky @cjwilcox30 aka MJ himself. #niceglove
Steve Ballmer - Dat Dude
As if he needs any introduction, but it seemed fitting to include this guy. Just in case any of you missed it, new owner Steve Ballmer, everyone. Take it away, Steve!