Recently, there haven't been many Ws for the Clippers both on and off the court. But what else do you expect when they have set themselves up as villains and arguably the most hated team in the association. Even many of us here at Clips Nation seem to be in a bit of a panic, arguing different topics and perspectives, from who should be blamed, how do they fix it, to if we should or should not be panicking at all! Regardless, whether you believe everything is fine or if the lack of minutes for [insert anyone not named Jamal Crawford or Paul Pierce here] is the problem, one thing we can almost certainly agree on is the clear lack of shooting.
This brings up the question, is it time to start slowly giving the 2nd year shooter, CJ Wilcox, some minutes, just as Doc did with Reggie Bullock his second year? At the time, Bullock was getting minutes from the lack of depth at the small forward position. Unfortunately for Wilcox, the Clippers have 2 players ahead of him in the depth chart (3 if you count Lance as a SG), but at what point does Wilcox earn his chance to start doing what Doc drafted him for, which is shoot 3s and stretch the floor. While both Jamal and Wilcox are portrayed as shooters, they bring very different approaches to how they get their shots.
Jamal is the prototypical isolation player, he falls into the same category as Lou Williams, J.R. Smith, and others. He needs the ball in his hands to be effective, and thus, he doesn't mesh very well with other players who similarly need the ball. On the other hand, Wilcox seemingly fits into a more catch and shoot/off ball player, somewhat similar to JJ Redick. Obviously Wilcox is nowhere near the level of Redick, but it's very clear that off the ball movement allows the Clipper's offense to flow better. Wilcox has also been lighting it up on the D-League, which obviously isn't the best indicator, but it's still a good sign. A short recap of his recent D-League play:
Repeating his aesthetics from the previous 20-point games, the majority of damage done by Wilcox came from creating open space for himself by running of screens, and when not doing his best J.J. Redick impression, shots were made on spot-up opportunities in the corner and wing. In any discussion about Wilcox and his talents, this is the beginning point — it was his thing in college and could well be the same in the NBA, especially when playing off the Chris Paul‘s and Blake Griffin‘s of the Clippers if C.J. is to ever break into Doc Rivers‘ rotation. Through the three games, Wilcox is 10th in the D-League in scoring with 23.3 points, and on a league-high 10.3 threes per, is knocking down 45.2% of his attempts, and the most important factor of all, one that can’t be measured by any metric, is the increase in confidence seen from C.J.
Interestingly enough, another reason I bring up the JJ comparison is because of a recent tweet Wilcox sent out.
"Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value" -Einstein
This idea very heavily relates to the career path JJ Redick took: he came into this league as the versatile, go to scorer in any situation. In college, his teammates would simply get him the ball, and he would find a way to score. However, after having a rough start to his NBA career, Redick transformed his game to revolve around more off ball movement and smart team defense (which was a necessity given his lack of athleticism). In other words, Redick found a way to be valuable to the team even if it meant taking a lesser role than he had been accustom to all of his life.
Overall, I bring up this idea, not only because I think the Clippers can benefit from having some more guys out there who don't need the ball in their hands to be effective, but also because the Clippers are going through some turmoil with the rotations. With that being the case, their are two very different ways to look at and approach the situation.
The first outlook is simple: CJ should definitely not get any minutes because the Clippers don't want to throw in another piece to the already scattered puzzle, especially when he is completely unproven. This is a very reasonable argument, as Wilcox has yet to truly show anything. On top of that, it's completely possible that the lack of depth that is not the issue but rather, just the lack of cohesiveness, in which case adding another player would only make things worse.
However, the case for playing CJ is that, essentially, the lack of production we are getting from our players is the key problem, and it isn't going to fix itself. Jamal and Pierce are shooters who have lost their shooting touch, and simply waiting for them to hopefully get better is an unreliable solution, especially when they will without a doubt hurt the defense. From there, outside of Wes Johnson, the defensive minded players like Mbah a Moute, Lance, and Smith simply don't have the shooting potential to keep other defenses honest. Many fans are calling for actual roster changes (like trading Jamal, which would be near impossible with his lack of trade value), and playing CJ would be somewhat equivalent to making a roster change as he would be a new player to the lineup.
Either way, both sides are understandable and have valid reasons and support. I for one believe that if Doc is already playing with minutes and lineups, he may as well throw CJ in their to see if he can make some buckets, because hopefully, he can't shoot any worse than PP and play worse defense than Jamal. Similar to how Bullock was given his chances, Wilcox should also be given the opportunity to show that he can do what he does best and make shots. If Wilcox doesn't produce given 8-10 minutes a game, simply move on from the experiment, but at least Doc would know that Wilcox can't give reliable minutes.