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Doc Rivers Becoming Less Tolerant with Players

As we have already known from past interviews, Doc Rivers believes that teams can become stale... are the Clippers nearing that point?

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Doc Rivers has claimed in the past, that when a team simply isn't achieving their goals, they can become stale, and thus changes may need to be made.  While the Clippers are consistently in the upper echelon of teams in the league, the core of this team has yet to even reach the Western Conference Finals, a feat that every other "top tier" Western team has achieved.  The Thunder made it to the finals in 2012, the Grizzlies made it to the WCF in 2013, the Spurs won it all in 2014, the Rockets made it to the WCF last year, and the Warriors won it all last year.  With all that being considered, some may question if it is time to make some personnel changes to the Clippers.

Lee Jenkins discusses this in his recent Sports Illustrated article:

Rivers subscribes to the philosophy that teams can turn stale, and that both the Clips and Grizz are nearing an expiration date. He attributes this belief less to any individual than to the unavoidable nature of group dynamics. "You get less tolerant of each other," Rivers says. "As the years go by, you know what a guy can’t do, but you get mad at him because he can’t do it."

With their aging roster, the Grizzlies obviously come to mind when it comes to this idea of a team becoming stale, especially when their greatest strength became exploited as their greatest weakness last year against the Warriors.  Although the Clippers are not in the exact same boat as the Grizzlies, Jenkins does bring up a good point that they are nearing that "expiration date" with how little success they have had in the playoffs.  Call it a freak accident in 2014, or a Josh-Smith-Miracle in 2015, but either way, the Clippers simply did not have what it takes to close out their series and advance to the next round.

Every year, there seems to be a very obvious obstacle that the Clippers hope to hurdle with their dynamic duo of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin... and every year, they seem to fall just short of their goals.  When the Clippers had arguably the best bench in the league, the issue was in their starting wings and coaching.  When the Clippers traded for a top coach and their starting lineup became arguably the best lineup in the league, the bench consisted of Jamal Crawford and other pieces Doc found in the buyout bin.  Finally, this year, it seems like the Clippers finally have the pieces to truly compete (minus a true backup C), so in a way, this may be their best shot at a championship run before they accept this philosophy of a team becoming stale and start making changes.

But what changes would be made?  Doc claims that "As the years go by, you know what a guy can’t do, but you get mad at him because he can’t do it."  This statement may refer to several players, but also, it undoubtedly does not apply to certain other guys.  Blake Griffin has been nothing short of amazing.  His game has evolved every year, and he is without a doubt one of the most complete PFs in the game.  Chris Paul, the most complete point guard in the game, also seems to be free of guilt, the only possible knock being his health.  The last player that is seemingly unaffected by this is JJ Redick.  While his defense is not elite, he absolutely holds his own on that end of the court, as well as giving other defenses headaches with his off the ball movement and sharpshooting.  With all that being said, this leaves two rather obvious candidates who have been here since the start of Doc's tenure:  Jamal Crawford and DeAndre Jordan.  Jamal's defense (if that is what you want to call it) has been a weakness of his throughout his career.  He simply doesn't have the tools, physicality, defensive IQ, or effort to be anything more than below average.  Now, coupled with his frustrating offense, he falls under the category of a player who "you know what he can't do, but you get mad at him because he can't do it."   DeAndre Jordan, similarly, has had problems plague his career that he has actually become worse at.  Yep.  Free throw shooting.  Even with the reports of him practicing non stop, he has regressed in FT% over the past two years.

All that being said, there is one more person to look at who doesn't sport a jersey every night, but he definitely is a huge part of the team....  And that's Doc.  This may be an overreaction to what are seemingly coaching blunders early on in the season, but his philosophy of entire rotation shifts, not fixing the issue of rebounding, and leaving DJ in no matter what the cost are things to question.  Those are certainly things that fall under the "dynamics" of a team, and they seem to hurt us a decent amount.  The Warriors won the championship when they switched coaches.  This obviously won't be the case for every team, but the general point stands: the Warriors changed the dynamics of their team and that allowed them to hit their potential.

Overall, the season is young and the Clippers easily have the deepest roster they have had in years (possibly ever).  There is still time to reach their potential, and time to make moves and changes in the lineups.  This seems to be their best shot at a championship, and if they fall short again... well, changes may have to be made.