The return of NBA basketball grows closer and closer by the day, but until then we've only got links to tide us over. Here's a look at what's been going on with the Clippers recently.
GQ's Zach Baron recently sat down with Blake Griffin for a wide-ranging interview. Here are a few of the highlights, although the entire piece is a must-read:
Why do people seem to get into it with you so much on the court?
I like to play physical, and I'm a big guy, and I think sometimes—maybe sometimes I am pushing somebody and I don't realize how hard I'm pushing them. And then they do it back, and it's kind of like, "Jeez!" You know what I mean? It looks worse because it's kind of almost like their reaction to me. And then at the same time, sometimes I'm like, okay, maybe it's just because I'm big and I play physical.
What was it that Klay Thompson said before the playoff series? That you were a "bull in a china shop"?
Bull in a china shop, yeah. But the thing about that is, it depends on who you are. If you're the bull, being a bull in a china shop is not a bad thing. If you're the china, it's a bad thing. So I want to be the bull. I don't want to be the china.
[Charles Barkley's] been a constant critic of yours. He's called you out for flopping and suggested that you're overrated.
Yeah, it's been a long time. I'm not a big fan. [laughs] It's hard. As a kid, I was a huge fan. And then, after so many times of hearing somebody say something negative about you, then it's like, okay, this is like a thing—it's a personal thing. You know what I mean? It's like the saying "Don't meet your heroes." I haven't met him, but I don't really need to anymore. Which is unfortunate.
There's a lot more in the full interview, including Blake talking about his relationship with Donald Sterling, his son, and Will Ferrell, among others. He also posed for several photos, which can be seen here.
J.J. Redick, who also recently had his first child, talked to NBA.com's Jeff Caplan. He discussed the Clippers' playoff run and his injury struggles (in great detail). And DeAndre Jordan spoke with SLAM and talked more casually about family, football, and fashion.
Both players were high on the team's potential this season, as were the writers over at Basketball Insiders, who previewed the Clippers season. All five members of their panel predicted the Clippers to win the Pacific Division, and prove themselves as a serious title contender.
After an unfortunately eventful offseason, the Clippers are moving forward with a new owner who’s clearly ready to supervise the winning of a significant number of basketball games. Obviously, the talent here is plentiful and they are well-coached, so even if they bump into a major injury or two there’s still more than enough good players here to step up and keep L.A. among the league’s elite teams. At full strength, though, they’re the biggest threat to dethrone San Antonio as the best there is in the Western Conference this year, and they should be viewed as one of the most serious title contenders in the NBA this season.
— Joel Brigham
Meanwhile, our very own Mark Travis contributed a team preview to Sheridan Hoops, where he listed five things to watch this season:
Despite adding solid outside shooters such as J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley last summer, nobody on the team shot over 40 percent from the arc last season. Shockingly, Darren Collison finished as the team’s second best long-distance shooter. Average or worse shooting seasons from Jamal Crawford, Dudley and Matt Barnes may have prevented LA’s offense from reaching historic levels. [...]
Although 3-point shooting is most associated with wing players, big man Spencer Hawes was easily the most important offseason addition. The Clippers already had some of the best spacing in basketball last season, so adding a 7-footer who can play at the arc while playing competent defense alongside either Griffin or DeAndre Jordan is almost unfair. Hawes shot 42 [percent] from three for the Cavaliers and 76ers last season while attempting a career high four per game. If he can replicate anything close to that, the Clippers may be ready to rewrite the offensive record books.
In other Clippers news, Trisity Miller of Fully Clips did a video breakdown of the team's newest addition, Joe Ingles, and how his unique skillset might translate to the NBA. She also pointed out some of his limitations, including how a poorer handle might limit his versatility and ability to drive even against slower players like Kevin Love. Mid-Level Exceptional also covered the Ingles signing, and how it affects the salary cap and luxury tax bill.
Beat writer Dan Woike also appeared on Zach Harper's Eye on Basketball Podcast the other day, and while the pair spends a lot of time talking about non-basketball stuff, they also touch upon how Los Angeles might elect to play more "bigball" lineups this season with Blake Griffin at the 3, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of Doc Rivers as both coach and GM. Woike also wrote an interesting article a few weeks prior discussing how the roster has bonded as a family off the court and during the offseason, including a tidbit about how assistant equipment manager Mathias Testi co-founded a clothing line, Datum, which some of the players rep.
In more leaguewide news, Zach Harper also wrote about Rivers and the league's other 'basketball czars,' guys pulling double shift as coach and general manager. Here's part of his blurb on Doc:
Rivers has looked at the future, and while he hasn't necessarily mortgaged it, he's made it clear that this is the only season that matters right now. His draft selections have been interesting as well, grabbing "veteran" college players at the end of the first round the last two years with Reggie Bullock in 2013 and C.J. Wilcox in 2014. He's looking for rookies that can come in right away and be trusted because they're not 19-year olds trying to figure out the NBA. He's building a title team now and will deal with the future when it gets here.
Again at CBS Sports, Matt Moore ranked the league's head coaches, and only Gregg Popovich and Rick Carlisle stood ahead of Doc Rivers, who was graded at a 9/10. However, the Clippers didn't fare so well in ESPN Insider's rankings of teams by under-25 talent, placing 29th (only ahead of the Memphis Grizzlies). This shouldn't be too surprising though, considering that the Clips were only represented by Reggie Bullock and C.J. Wilcox, neither of whom may play this season outside of garbage time minutes.
Over at Hardwood Paroxysm, William Bohl has a great feature on the increasing emphasis teams place on transition 3s, and the many different ways players get open for these attempts. No team last season attempted more transition 3s than the Clippers:
Call it the Chris Paul effect: the Clippers, 7th in the league in pace and 8th total threes attempted, pulled the trigger from the perimeter in transition more often than any team in 2013-14. Notice that despite their devotion to transition threes, they weren’t particularly good at hitting them (3.7% worse than the average team) and finished 22nd in overall perimeter shooting. It was much the same story the year before, when the Clips were 10th in transition attempts despite the fact that only five teams were worse at knocking them down.
Did Los Angeles underachieve a bit? Probably. J.J. Redick missed significant time, Jamal Crawford was merely league-average (36.1%), and Willie Green and Matt Barnes were mediocre at knocking down threes. Yet, the Clippers stayed committed to transition attempts because it was a way for their shooters to get open looks before the defenses were set, with an accomplished floor general (Chris Paul) barking orders as they ran.
Meanwhile, my inaugural Goat of the Week Award goes to Hoops Habit, whose preview of the Clippers (which I won't link) was as head-scratching as you can get. Here are some choice quotes from the article, which makes the claim that every other Western contender (including Houston and Portland) has made improvements while Los Angeles remains stagnant.
The Oklahoma City Thunder really crushed the Clippers in the second round. It was a 4-2 series, but the Thunder always looked a class above — again...
The Thunder arguably addressed their biggest concern by adding Anthony Morrow — an outside shooting specialist... The Clippers appear to be treading water...
However, we have been duped by their regular season form before. This year might once again see the Clippers put the "con" in contenders.
Finally, here's an interesting thought exercise: Who's more important to the Clippers' success this season — J.J. Redick, or Jamal Crawford?
That'll be all for today. Until next time.