Well folks, let's pack it up right now. The season is over, this team is not going anywhere. 0-3 in the preseason might be disgraceful, but that they don't seem to care at all? Unforgivable. Let's have out with it, the Clippers are lackadaisical and they think they can win just by showing up. We should have known they were trying to be the Lakers the minute they debuted those hoity-toity new lights. And if you've been paying attention to the news, you'll have been even more disappointed by their antics over the last few days.
This shameful attitude, like with all things, starts at the top. Doc Rivers doesn't seem to care about the Clippers preseason so far.
"I have one announcement," Rivers said, fighting back a smirk. "We’re probably not going to win the preseason championship."
We all thought small forward would be the biggest weakness this season, but it looks like coaching is the real issue. Smirking? Smirking?! Ladies and gentlemen, what we have here is a coach who acted like last year was a contract year. He got his big bucks and now winning doesn't matter anymore.
Rivers said he did not notice the streamers that fell from the rafters after the Utah Jazz's 102-89 victory over the Clippers on Monday night at EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City. Informed that the Jazz (3-0) was in contention for that mythical preseason title, Rivers cracked a smile. "There you go," he said. "They're going to win it."
You know what motivated the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs last year? Watching the streamers fall after losing in the NBA Finals. They could have rested on their laurels and been proud that they made it that far, but they knew better! They kept fighting! Meanwhile, our coach is content with second-round appearances as long as he gets his cash: "I’m not that concerned right now, honestly," he said. Honesty's the only thing you've got going for you right now, Doc.
This team needs a real coach who cares. A motivator. You know who's available? Mark Jackson. He'd know how to whip this team into shape. At the very least, he wouldn't be lazing around golfing instead of practicing. And worse — taking the whole team along with him. You think Big Baby needs any more distractions?
"This location is so awesome," said Glen Davis. "I was on my way up here and I was just like, 'Where am I going?' I looked to my right and it was, boom, nothing but water. I'm like, 'OK.'"
Trading Larry O'Brien for Donald Trump? For shame, this team cares more about money than championships. SMH.
Before Doc Rivers played golf in the Clippers' annual charity tournament on Tuesday at Trump National, he had a phone conversation with Donald Trump. Doesn't everyone start a round of golf at Trump National that way? No, that doesn't come with the green fees. Rivers and Trump are friends and have golfed together before. Rivers, an avid golfer, had played here before, too.
And Rivers likes to golf. He played more golf than ever this summer than usual, he said, but has had no problem talking about how his game somehow got worse. Rivers is so enamored with golf... that he's tried to get coaches and players involved in the game. When he coached the Celtics, he had players take up the game. Even during the NBA Finals. "In the Finals, several times I made guys go golf actually," Rivers said. "There's a lot of stuff out there."
Rivers can take the focus off basketball more in Los Angeles than he could in Boston, since he can play through the winter months. While that may help his state of mind, that apparently hasn't helped his golf game.
Congratulations Doc. What a way to waste your summer. The only thing that makes you look better is that this team didn't need your help to distract itself anyways. Longtime loafer Ekpe Udoh is already on the case, and it looks like he's already poisoned Blake Griffin and Matt Barnes. How many more will follow suit?
Blake, Matt, it'd be nice if you put effort into playing defense and caring about basketball instead of arguing Nicholas Sparks books and eating strawberries. This team... I can't even. Let's just move on.
To distract ourselves from our pandemonium, let's take a look at what the rest of the league's saying about our beloved do-nothing Clippers. We're not the only ones worrying; a fellow concerned citizen and featured columnist over at Bleacher Report has a few questions about this team too. The Los Angeles Times also join us in bemoaning the sorry state of the small forward position.
I guess time seems to fly when you're worried, and the regular season is already just around the corner. In the meantime, NBA and team previews are coming out all over the place. Let's look at a few.
ProBasketball Talk likes what they're seeing from the Clippers. A lot. Brett Pollakoff thinks this team will get a top-two seed and make a trip to the Conference Finals. The folks over at Total Sports Live agree with that assessment, putting the Clips at #2 in their Western Conference Power Rankings.
Meanwhile, Scott Howard-Cooper over at NBA.com also has a great preview of the Clippers this season. He approaches the question from the perspective of the unforgettable Game 5 loss — do the Clippers (and Chris Paul) actually have it in them to get over that hump? He doesn't offer up a prediction on how the team will fare this season, although he's high on DeAndre Jordan's potential of making an All-Defense team. He also agrees with resident curmudgeon John Raffo that the Clippers will be in the trade market looking for an upgrade at the 3.
Some more preseason power rankings: the folks over at USA Today have LAC at #4 overall entering the season, as does Hoops Habit (although the latter has Cleveland and Chicago going 1-2...). Sonics Rising puts the team at third, and they really like Jordan Farmar, who might be enough of an upgrade over Darren Collison that CP3 will get significantly more rest this season. They also think that "Doc's abilities (or failings) will be front and center this season."
ESPN also came out with power rankings today, and they're beautiful visually. They've also got the Clippers at #2 in the West, but you'll need to turn off your ad blocker if you want to see the reasoning and analysis behind it. Amin Elhassan also has a nice graphic on defensive points of interest — including last season's struggles defending the left corner 3, something he blames on J.J. Redick's weakness against the pick-and-roll.
If you have Insider access, there's a lot more from Amin on the Clippers. Here's a sampling from his season preview:
The misfortune of playing in the Western Conference means the Clippers could achieve all of those statistical benchmarks [they're projected to be the 2nd best offensive team while maintaining a top-10 defense] and still find themselves a victim of a first- or second-round knockout in the playoffs. The unprecedented wealth of talent concentrated west of the Mississippi means even regular-season matchups against teams expected to be on the outside looking in of the playoff picture will be hard-fought, and each game will carry added meaning as they could end up the deciding factor in home-court advantage.
The Clippers will need to continue to improve at execution on either end of the ball, especially in crunch-time situations, to realize their greater goals of glory beyond division titles and playoff appearances. The margin between winning the West and playing on the road in the opening round might be ultra-thin.
Insider has the Clippers winning 57 games this season, although Kevin Pelton's projections suggest they'll be closer to a 60-win squad. As part of their leaguewide preview, they've also got player profiles for each member of the team, which I highly recommend reading if you have the time and access. Here are some interesting snippets for your viewing pleasure (Disclaimer: the full profiles are a lot more balanced, but most of the positives are already well-known to Clippers fans).
Chris Paul: Defensively is where the slippage is more noticeable, as he increasingly relies more on well-timed gambles and reaches (not to mention more than his fair share of histrionics) rather than sliding his feet and keeping himself between his man and the basket. Paul also will often freelance on help defense and gamble for steals in the passing lanes or on unprogrammed double-downs.
Blake Griffin: [His improved jumper] now allows him to put the ball on the floor and make plays at the rim, where his explosion and vertical leap, combined with his soft touch and ambidexterity, make him impossible to stop. He also has become a very shrewd passer from the elbow area down, most notably when rolling hard out of a pick-and-roll, where he'll often hit DeAndre Jordan for lobs when the defense collapses. His post game has also really flourished, particularly on the right block, where he'll often fake middle before turning baseline and finishing off glass.
DeAndre Jordan: Making matters worse, he's a poster child for Hack-a-Shaq strategies, with a pathetic free-throw percentage of barely 43. Put in perspective, teammate Jamal Crawford shot better from 30 feet (45 percent) during live game action than Jordan did uncontested from 15 feet.
Jordan Farmar: [He] isn't the speed demon Collison is in the open court, but plays better under control, particularly in structured offenses. Defensively, Farmar has the ability to turn the ball handler several times up court, and should be a significant upgrade over the defense-challenged Collison, whose matador defense put enormous pressure on the Clippers bigs to stop straight-line drives to the rim.
Let's go leaguewide now, starting with social analytics firm General Sentiment. They ranked NBA franchises by media exposure, and unsurprisingly the Clippers ranked 2nd:
The sentiment word driving the most conversation over the last year for the Clippers was "win" - a case that was shared by more than half of the NBA's 30 teams. But unlike any of the other 30, the second-most influential sentiment word used to describe the Clippers was "racist," as in describing former Clippers owner Donald Sterling. While media value discounts mentions for their overall negativity, the "all new is good news" methodology that drives media value can sometimes overpower the weight given to negative commentary and what you end up seeing is the undeniable footprint of media coverage reflected in the statistic, as is the case here with the Clippers.
Over at Grantland, Kirk Goldsberry has a very cool look into rebounding and where missed shots land. It has an awesome interactive graphic that you might have fun playing around with. There are some pretty interesting insights in that piece, so definitely check it out.
Nylon Calculus also did some interesting work, and writer Jacob Rosen suggests that we might be on the brink of a historically great offensive season. Their sister blog Hardwood Paroxysm also has a very good piece on the art of learning shot mechanics, suggesting that current methods are inefficient since players react very differently in game situations compared to practice.
Also of note, our own Danielle Greenberg continues her stellar run with a guest appearance over at fellow SB Nation affiliate Grizzly Bear Blues. It looks like an ongoing conversation, so keep an eye on it for her upcoming responses.
We'll finish out this edition of the Daily Clipper with a fan favorite(?): the Goat of the Week. We have an equal opportunity policy on selecting our Goats, so this week's honoree proves that it doesn't matter who you are or what you've done, so long as you're slighting the Clippers.
Usually I have to give Zach Lowe a ton of credit; he's universally regarded as one of the best (if not the best) NBA writers around. Today, however, he's going from GOAT to Goat. He gave the Clippers some shine in his annual predictions column, suggesting that DeAndre Jordan and Spencer Hawes will get a lot of burn together. But his presence here isn't about that, but rather more about what he didn't say.
1. Cleveland will lead the league in points per possession.
I’m on a two-year run calling the league’s best offense, and I’m going back East for a bet on a revamped team that has to play Indiana and Chicago a combined eight times. Gulp.
Add one more cog and a year of seasoning, and these Cavs will have a shot to trump the Steve Nash-era Phoenix teams and produce the greatest single-season offense in league history.
Questionable pick, Zach, but I can respect that decision. But don't you think that a lot of that second paragraph could apply to the Clippers, who added that cog (aka not Byron Mullens) and are already well-seasoned? What about the other teams in that discussion?
Threats lurk everywhere, though Durant's injury takes the Thunder out of the picture. The Spurs are a perennial top-five offense. Houston is potent. Golden State has looked extraordinary in the preseason, but two of its games have come against the Lakers, and it's starting from a lower baseline.
I gotta say, Zach, there's definitely a threat you're forgetting. Maybe you're saving the best for last?
Portland had the league's best offense over the first couple of months of last season, and it's bringing back every key contributor. Dallas had the league's best offense after the All-Star break and figures to be better.
But the bet here is Cleveland.
... Wow. The disrespect is real, Zach. I don't know what to say to that unforgivable slight. As a Clips Nation contributor, I'm officially calling for a blogwide boycott of Zach Lowe for his reprehensible conduct. And I'll call for your head too, maybe if I bring this to Simmons' attention he'll fire you and replace you with someone better... like me. Your days at Grantland are numbered, I'm going to be the Kevin Love to your Andrew Wiggins.
That'll be all for today's edition of the Daily Clipper. I missed today's roundtable, so I'll leave you with this bold prediction: the Clippers will continue their winless streak into next April.
Remember — if you set low expectations, you can never be disappointed!