Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Hardwood Paroxysm's 2008-2009 Season Preview: Los Angeles Clippers

"No, really, we're going to be better this year! This is the year! Things are coming up Clip, baby! O9 is Just Fine For the Clip Show!" Oh, Clippers fans. You poor, poor bastards.

Your opening preview is by Matt Moore.

Would you be as down on the Clippers if Brand had just said "I'm out of here this season"? If Davis had been brought in as a replacement? If you looked at a team moving past their inability to put together a winner with Brand and trying to build something new?

Probably not.

But then, they wouldn't be the Clippers.

I'm not going to beat the "It's the Clippers" horse to death. It's old, it's tiresome, and they used to say the same thing about every team in this league. It's just lasted a lot longer for the Clippers. And this team isn't as good as it would have been if Brand hadn't gotten into a fracas with management. But to a certain degree, people are probably hammering them a bit more than they deserve. The big problem with predicting the Clip is that they have two huge factors that people are very opinionated about, but there's not a clear answer for. Unfortunately, they're at the two most important positions in basketball right now. Point guard and center. So we'll do this in a series of conditionals.

IF BARON DAVIS DOES NOT MISS MORE THAN 15 GAMES WITH INJURY: Some people will tell you that this is physically impossible, given that last year was the first time in seven years that he's played more than 68 games. But he did play all 82 last year, he has become a smarter player, and he did do the Jenny Craig thing which could help him a lot when the season starts. So for the purposes of this paragraph, we're going to assume the best in modern medicine and move on. Fact is, having a point guard who can create with the ball in his hands, who can score, who can run the break, who can hit big shots, and make important passes is an invaluable commodity in the NBA. It's not the end-all, be-all, but when you've got guys like Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Steve Nash, it's nice to have a top-end guy who you can bring to the gunfight. Davis is a superstar. Sorry, but 22 points, 8 assists, 5 rebounds and 2 steals is a good day's work where I come from. Everytime I look at his assist numbers, my brain bends a little bit. He's a great creator. I just never imagine him as the same kind of distributor as other players. But the numbers, as they so often do, prove that I'm not paying enough attention. If Baron takes this team to heart and they get in line behind him as their leader, they're going to rumble with anyone. That's the thing with Davis. When everyone expected him to detonate, he crumpled. And once he was written off, he flourished. So now he's expected to shine on a bad team. Keep a notebook handy.

IF BARON DAVIS CHECKS OUT FOR THE MAJORITY OF THE SEASON TO MAKE MOVIES AND NURSE WOUNDS: It's not really that they're detonated at point. I mean, last season they won without a point guard. Mike Taylor (D-League) is showing flashes that maybe he can play at this level. Hart is a capable veteran. The biggest problem in this scenario is just the gap between good players and superstars in the NBA is that chasm in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. You're only getting across if you really believe (or are smart enough to unravel an optical illusion). I'm not sure if Al Thornton is ready to believe that, yet. So if you take last year's team, make Thornton a year older, take out Maggette and add Gordon, and then throw in Camby, you've got a lottery team, but not the worst team in the league. Suffice to say, this would still be an umitigated disaster.

IF MARCUS CAMBY'S NUMBERS AND AWARDS ARE NOT COMPLETELY FAKE: I was kind of stunned at how people piled on the "Marcus Camby Sucks" wagon when he was traded. I mean, 13 rebounds, 3 blocks are still good numbers. Bad defense? Hilton Armstrong is a bad defender. Sene is a bad defender. I'm not saying his numbers were indicative of his defensive prowess, I'm saying he adds an element of toughness. He shores up what would have been missing defensively with Brand to even a limited degree.

IF MARCUS CAMBY'SN NUMBERS AND AWARDS ARE COMPLETELY FAKE: Then it's just like last season, but with Baron Davis. Hmm.

THE REST: Gordon's going to struggle. His game was more apt for the college game, and I don't know if he's going to "get" the NBA game in his first season. (Editor's Note: Immediately after I typed these words, Eric Gordon went out and scored 31 points in a preseason game. This kid and I are NOT going to get along.) I think Al Thornton is going to absolutely detonate this year, but I seem to be the only one. The book on him is that he's an above average scorer but can't do anything else. We'll have to see how the body work he did over the summer pays off. Clippers fans think Kaman can make a difference, everyone else thinks he's a schlub. His season is a lot like Thornton's. He has to repeat last year's "success" to be considered legit.

ALL THINGS CONSIDERED: When I tell people the Clippers are going to surprise them, they think I'm insane. "There's no WAY this team makes the playoffs!" And they're absolutely right. I don't think the Clippers will make the playoffs. But I think they'll be a lot closer than some people think. They're too dependent on too many "ifs" is what I was trying to get across here. The perfect storm would necessitate Camby living up to the reputation he had before last season, Davis playing 82 games, Thornton stepping up and adding rebounding, Gordon being able to contribute, Kaman repeating last year's success, Mobley having a renaissance, and Tim Thomas putting in the second good season of his career. I don't like all those to work out. But I like some of them. They're on the edge of the world right now, and they're either going to steer the ship in the right direction with Baylor gone, or fall of the edge back into Clipperland.

Good luck, ye fearless voyagers of despair.

VISIONS By Trey Kerby


By Matt Moore:


By The Corndogg:

Oh glory, where to start. How about in the middle. No other team in the league boast more one dimensional bigs than the Clips. They mortgaged their future..., well, second round pick to get Camby. Although he is still, after 398 years in the league, still a defensive stalwart, that is about all you are gonna get. Fantasy players live and choke on those 2/22/2 stat lines. After that, we have Paul Davis who is exceptionally good at being white, Brian Skinner who is amazing at dying his goatee, Deandre Jordan who excels at underachieving despite his massive potential, Jelani McCoy who can uncannily die and come back to NBA employment like Lazarus does with life and Tim Thomas who might have the greatest singular talent of them all: not having his bones atrophy despite seemingly decades long periods of inactivity. Sure, the Clips still have "un dergen Fuhrer (the little leader)," Chris Kaman, who you cannot help but love. Well, unless you are American and you don't like your yettis turning their back on Old Glory. But really, I have very little to say about Kaman, who had a career year last year and, though I think he may regress some this year having to constantly switch and guard 4s, he should still be the second offensive stalwart on this piecemeal, but talented team.

If that wasn't enough, please let me reiterate that Tim Thomas does less and gets paid more than Rob Schneider. PWN.

And, the cherry on the crap sundae would have to be Ricky Davis. On a team where Baron Davis will have the ball in his hands at least 55% of the time, where Al Thornton needs the ball to take over on the wing, where Kaman can be effective as a patient anchor in the post and where Eric Gordon's, the #7 pick in the draft this year, best asset is his explosiveness (for a tubby bowling ball of a basketballer) towards the basket, the last thing this team needs is Ricky "Ready to Jack it" Davis constantly playing hot potato with the rock. Ricky treats the ball like it has AIDS on it, getting it out of his grasp and on a high arching trajectory towards to hoop with a quickness and disregard for passing that hasn't been seen since, well, the last time Ricky Davis was on the court. It is the ultimate irony that on a team where isolation might work most effectively towards its strengths that Ridiculous (and not in a good way) Ricky Davis, will be counted on as a solid offensive option. Even though he normally plays iso between himself and his coach's intent.


What's up, baby? Wait, don't close the door! Just talk to me. I just want to talk. C'mon. You know you miss me. C'mon. I got something I want to tell you. Just give me a minute. Just open the door.


Thank you. Listen, I'm changed. No wait! Just hear me out! Hear. Me. Out. I got Baron Davis! Yeah! Dizzle! For realz, yo! Yeah! He's here! Now we got Brand, Big Al, Eric Gordon (who's just like Ben Gordon only younger and thicker, so he's tougher!), Cat, Sasquatch, and Tim Thomas, to go along with Baron Davis! I'm telling you, baby, things are going to be different this time. We're startig a new thing up here! It's going to be beautiful! Just let me in. C'mon. You said things had to change, that I had to step up. I did. C'mon. Yes, Brand's coming back! C'mon! You think I'd be here if Brand wasn't resigning? Let me in. Aw, there you go baby...




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