Through the first two weeks of the NBA season, the Los Angeles Clippers have been the definition of mediocre. They’ve split two games with Portland, defeated a few lower-tier teams (Houston, Golden State, Milwaukee) and lost handily to title contenders Chicago and San Antonio.
Some would say that a 4-3 record through seven games isn’t bad, considering that it’s going to take some time for the new-look roster to learn how to play with each other. After all, after acquiring LeBron James and Chris Bosh last offseason, the Miami Heat started 9-8 before steamrolling all the way through the Eastern Conference.
As someone who’s seen just about every minute of the Clippers this year, however, I’m starting to worry about what Lob City has in store for the rest of the season.
Now, I’m not usually one to hold head coaches accountable for disappointing results (okay, maybe this week has been the exception), but in my humble opinion, I’m starting to wonder if Vinny Del Negro might be in over his head with this team.
Personally, I don’t think Del Negro is a very good X’s and O’s guy.
If you look at some of the better teams in the league over the past few years—Boston, L.A. Lakers and San Antonio in particular—they are all strong half-court teams that have an offensive identity and an array of set plays they can turn to in the half court.
I’m not seeing that from the Clippers. What I am seeing is a disorganized offense that includes a lot of dribbling around and settling for jump shots late in the shot clock. "Stagnant" would be the word that comes to mind.
This team is not spacing the floor well and there isn’t much ball movement. Ask Jim Carlisle and the Dallas Mavericks how important those two things are to a successful offense.
Despite all that, the Clippers will still be able to score because Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are superior talents who can make plays one-on-one against just about anybody when the team needs a big basket.
I’m more worried about the defensive side of the ball.
Despite DeAndre Jordan’s continuing collection of highlight rejections, I’m not seeing a lot of intensity on defense. There isn’t much boxing out on the boards. Players are out of position (which is why Jordan is forced to make so many blocks). Good shooters are shooting wide-open jump shots.
I’m beginning to wonder exactly what it is that the Clippers practice on in practice.
Yes, Allen Iverson—I’m talking about practice.
Maybe I’m being too hard on the coach. It’s just that I have high expectations for this team—I’m on record as predicting a trip to the conference finals for the Clippers this year—and as of yet, I’m not seeing any signs that they will be able to contend with the top teams in the league.