As Chauncey Billups went down with a season ending Achilles tear, the Clippers were dealt an obvious blow at the Shooting Guard position. A steady veteran leader and go-to guy on offense, the Billups-less Clippers find themselves playing sub-.500 ball since that night in Orlando. In his place stepped Randy Foye, a former lottery pick, who has played decent filling in. However, the Clippers offense has gone stagnant at times, often leading to long cold streaks and some bad losses. Here are four solutions to the Clippers offensive woes.
There is no arguing that the pieces are there, it's now about finding what works and what doesn't. Coach Vinny Del Negro still seems to be figuring out his rotations, a worry more than halfway through this campaign. Far too many times this season, the Clippers have gone on dry spelt runs, going exorbitant amounts of time with no scoring and no offensive flow.
Look no further than a recent game against the Boston Celtics. A sloppy, flow-less game between two teams both playing on back-to-back nights, the game was ravaged by turnovers and ultimately decided by lopsided runs. A certainly winnable game was debauched by poor offensive sets, absolutely no flow, and zero creativity.
Firing a coach mid-season would most likely result in an interim situation, similar to the one in 2010, when Kim Hughes took over for Mike Dunleavy going 8-25. Del Negro's track record leaves much to be desired, and if the Clippers could lure a big time coach such as Larry Brown, Jerry Sloan, or dare I say Phil Jackson, this team would have a much more legitimate shot at winning an NBA Title.
The Clippers sorely lack a dynamic scorer off the bench to compliment the stellar play of Mo Williams this season. Three players capable of filling that void sit on the Clippers radar, the Portland Trailblazers Jamal Crawford, Boston Celtics Ray Allen, and Washington Wizards swingman Nick Young.
In the event of a trade deadline move, the Clippers would most likely be asked to part ways with Sophomore Point Guard Eric Bledsoe, and another piece, possibly Ryan Gomes or the expiring contracts of Randy Foye or Brian Cook.
Jamal Crawford provides instant offense, a player who shoots the ball extremely well and provides an explosive spark off the bench. Ray Allen's career numbers speak for themselves. Although the future Hall-of-Famer could provide the Clippers with some much needed offensive firepower, his age (36) and expiring $10 million contract make giving up the young Bledsoe a tough sell.
Nick Young, a Los Angeles kid, has shown signs of brilliance in his young NBA career. An athletic two, Young can spread the floor with his mid-range game, but has shown signs of inconsistency throughout his first four years in the league.
The Clippers best bet would be the acquisition of Crawford due to his offensive abilities, but it will be a tough call letting go of the talented and promising Bledsoe. Not to mention that all three players, aside from Crawford who has a player option for the 2012-2013 season, become unrestricted free agents at seasons end.
Chris Paul is the NBA's best facilitator. His uncanny ball handling skills and superior court vision lend themselves to a pass-first approach. These skills also allow Paul to get anywhere on the floor at any time. We've seen his masterful performances first hand, his ability to take over games with his handle and body control. At the moment, the Clippers are 16-5 when Paul scores over 17 points.
The Clippers need Paul to score, taking more initiative on the offensive end. The Clippers have become a jump shooting, half-court offense team, far from the "Lob City," run and gun squad many expected after Paul's acquisition. As arguably the best shooter on the team, Paul must begin to look for his shot, as the pieces around him reevaluate their roles.
Very few players are graced with the title "Gamechanger" and Chris Paul's almost effortless ability to get to any spot on floor gives him the ability to score at will. The Clippers need Paul's scoring just as much as they need his tenacity, leadership, and will to win.
Mo Williams can make a legitimate case as to why he should be named the NBA's 6th Man of the Year (Williams is averaging a hair over 14 points per game). The rest of the Clipper bench has been plain sad offensively. The Clipper bench ranks 29th in the league in scoring at a little over 24 points per game, just ahead of the Lakers who average about 20.
Aside from Mo Williams, the Clippers do not have a single proven scorer off the bench. Earlier in the year, Coach Del Negro paired Williams and Caron Butler with the second unit with reasonable success, however, with Butler's recent shooting slump, Williams is forced to carry a more substantial load.
With enough pressure on starters Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to produce, the lack of bench production only compounds and aggregates this teams offensive problems.