“Offense sells tickets, defense wins games, rebounding wins championships.” – Pat Summit
Most people who follow the L.A. Clippers would agree that the two biggest strengths of this team are 1) Blake Griffin and 2) playmaking guards who thrive in open space and can either score themselves or make it easier for the big men to finish around the basket.
Or as we like to call it—Lob City.
The best way to take advantage of these talents? On the fast break.
The easiest way to start a fast-break? Get a rebound.
It's no secret that the Clippers are best suited with Chris Paul zipping down the court, looking for Chauncey Billups or Caron Butler on the wing while at the same time keeping an eye on Griffin as he makes his way towards the rim.
More often than not, CP3 will make the right decision with the basketball—especially if he’s got the defense on its heels.
And, because of Vinny Del Negro’s lack of imagination in the half-court, an advantage in fast-breaks and easy baskets will come in big handy when it comes to winning games.
This is why I believe DeAndre Jordan is so pivotal to the success of this team this year. He has to be the one to consistently clear the glass and get the ball to one of his guards to set those wheels in motion.
This season was all set to be Jordan’s breakout party in the NBA. In the last several months, the Clippers gave him more money, a starting job and better teammates.
Oh, and add to that more responsibility and pressure to perform.
Personally, I thought Jordan would thrive this season, and I predicted him to make the All-NBA Third Team.
While DJ has had his moments in 2012, it’s safe to say that he has underachieved so far.
Jordan can’t stay on the floor for long stretches of time because he’s usually in foul trouble. And, when he does play, it’s hard to point out many positive contributions other than a handful of highlight-reel blocks and dunks.
This is where I start to gush about Reggie Evans.
If you’ve never heard of this guy, it’s okay, you’re not alone. After all, he’s never averaged more than 5.6 PPG in any season of his 10-year NBA career and is now on his fifth different team.
But he’s just what the Clippers needed.
He's tough as nails and an expert at using his body to position himself for a rebound.
Watch and learn, Blake and DeAndre.
No one’s better at outhustling everyone for an offensive rebound in traffic to give your team an extra possession. Evans reminds me a lot of Charles Oakley, but without that baseline jumper.
To top it off—Evans does all his dirty work while wearing a dark blue headband and flashing a smile that I can see all the way from Section 301.
But, back to rebounding.
There’s no reason or excuse for the Clippers to be the fourth-worst rebounding team in the league through 12 games.
Losing the battle on the boards means your opponent will have more possessions and opportunities to score than you will. The Clippers, on several occasions in 2012, have had enough firepower on offense to overcome that deficiency.
Still, that’s not a formula you want to rely on for long-term success.
If the L.A. Clippers want to take that next step from “potential title contenders” to “NBA Champions,” it’s going to have to start with rebounding.