Last season the Los Angeles Clippers were able to win 60 percent of their games based on their talent. The abilities of All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, former All-Stars Mo Williams and Caron Butler and budding standout DeAndre Jordan had the tendency to create matchup problems for opponents.
While their individual talent carried them through the regular season, their extra simple offense eventually doomed them as a team.
During the regular season, the Clippers averaged 97 points per game. It is a miracle that they were able to score at that clip with such a dry offensive playbook.
The plays they ran on offense lacked movement and creativity. Many possessions consisted of one player engaging in long, stagnant isolation and one-on-one plays while the other four players stood patiently and watched. (Here's a YouTube channel that has several videos analyzing their half-court sets.)
The reason they were able to have solid production on offense was because of starting point guard Chris Paul. His brilliant ability to manage the game and make plays for everyone around him is what saved the team from being near hopeless in offensive sets.
However, Paul's high-powered basketball IQ wasn't enough to propel the Clips past the second round of the playoffs. Everything slows down during the postseason and one-on-one plays just don't cut it.
Their scoring average dropped to 90 points per contest in the playoffs. Once they faced the San Antonio Spurs in the conference semifinals, it was a wonder that they were even playing in May. San Antonio's sophisticated offensive attack made the Clippers offense look minor league.
The Clippers cracked at least 100 points 29 times through 66 regular-season games (nearly 44 percent of games), but only achieved this once during their 11 playoff games. And that was a game that ended after three overtimes.
The godfather behind their achromatic offense, head coach Vinny Del Negro, will return to the sidelines for another season. After nearly firing him back in March, the Clippers' long-time incompetent front office decided to keep him around rather than pay for a new coach.
This is a decision that could prevent the ballclub from reaching the potential that their talent offers them. Del Negro's less-than-basic offensive schemes are not enough to get them through multiple playoff rounds.
The additions of Grant Hill, Jamal Crawford and Lamar Odom are not enough to spice up the offense. A team that features two starters who are not strong one-on-one scorers, in Griffin and Jordan, needs to run an offense that has enough motion and rhythm to free them up for baskets.
There are high expectations for this year's Clippers and many are picking them as a dark horse in the West. However, their unimaginative offense remains a grey cloud over their heads.
And unless Del Negro suddenly elevates the complexity of his playbook, his squad will go no further than they did last season.
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