Grading the L.A. Clippers' Current Two-Deep Depth Chart
A preseason without backcourt tandem Chris Paul and Chauncey Billups makes it harder to holistically assess this roster, but the team has shown significant growth and development throughout the summer.
Stuck in a loaded Western Conference, the Clippers will need strong play top to bottom if they have any chance of making a run at a title this year.
Clever offseason acquisitions Jamal Crawford, Lamar Odom and Grant Hill have made LAC's second unit elite. Add in the firepower of the starting five and this Clippers' team could surprise this season.
Here are Lob City's grades for each position, starting with the bench and followed by the starters.
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Brought in as big bodies to relieve starting center DeAndre Jordan, Ryan Hollins and Ronny Turiaf have made a living working in the trenches.
While neither is especially talented on offense or defense, both players have used their strong work ethic to keep their basketball careers relevant.
These numbers should not be too alarming to Lob City, given the sample size and the nature of the preseason. Their production in March and April will be much more important than their production in September.
Bench: Power Forward
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Once the season begins, the primary relief for starter Blake Griffin will likely be Lamar Odom.
Which Odom the Clippers acquired will be key heading into this season.
Lob City will need Odom to contribute at a Laker-like level if this team's depth can find any success.
If the Clippers acquired the maligned Odom from last season, then Clipper Nation will have to frantically put the pieces together on the bench.
How Odom performs night in and night out is yet to be determined.
Bench: Small Forward
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Grant Hill, Matt Barnes
The Clippers' front office addressed the team's defensive issues by bringing in specialists Grant Hill and Matt Barnes this summer.
Although starter Caron Butler is an effective option on the wing, the additions of Hill and Barnes make this team all the more deep on the perimeter.
Despite his age, Grant Hill is as productive as ever, coming off of another solid season with the Phoenix Suns. The fiery Barnes will be used to replace the edge the Clippers once had with Kenyon Martin, and add some versatility and range on the wing.
Maintaining solid play from both Hill and Barnes will be critical in 2012-13.
Bench: Shooting Guard
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Jamal Crawford, Willie Green
With Chauncey Billups still recovering from an Achilles injury, Lob City will be relying on the production of Jamal Crawford and Willie Green early in the season.
Coach Vinny Del Negro has been starting Green in the preseason, and the results have been largely disappointing.
In the first two preseason games, Green scored a total of 11 points and shot a miserable 26.3 percent from the field.
In contrast to Green, Crawford has demonstrated that he is still the same high volume scoring playmaker that he was in his Sixth Man days on the Atlanta Hawks.
Crawford led the bench in scoring and assists in the team's first two preseason games. While some of his shooting tendencies can drive coaches and fans crazy, the shooting guard appears to be playing with a new level of patience.
Nevertheless, until Green shows that he can play at an elevated level, shooting guard depth could become an issue.
Bench: Point Guard
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Starting the preseason in the absence of the injured Chris Paul, guard Eric Bledsoe has continued his torrid development since last postseason.
Bledsoe looks to be a capable leader for the second unit, playing with much more poise and control than in years past.
He stuffed the stat sheet in a 106-104 loss, putting up 25 points on 71 percent shooting, brought down eight rebounds, dished out six assists and finished with five steals. Bledsoe even made the game-tying layup in the game's closing seconds.
Entering his third NBA season, Bledsoe really looks primed for a breakout year and a candidate for the NBA's Most Improved Player of the Year Award.
Starting Lineup: Center
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Coming off a disappointing 2011-12 season, DeAndre Jordan has been working closely with the Clippers' staff to develop a post game and some consistency from the free-throw line.
Jordan demonstrated his post prowess with some nice up-and-under moves and jump hooks against the Nuggets. He seems to be playing with a new found confidence and swagger that could make him a legitimate threat throughout the season.
His free-throw shooting still has to be concerning, however. Despite his new mechanics, Jordan converted just one of 13 free-throws in the team's first two preseason games.
Until he tightens that part of his game up, Jordan will still be somewhat of a liability come crunch time.
Starting Lineup: Power Forward
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Heading into his third NBA season, Blake Griffin will be looking to establish himself as the premiere power forward in the Western Conference.
Griffin has been one of the most complete players to ever don a Clippers jersey, putting together a complete diet of scoring, rebounding and playmaking to lead Lob City in the paint.
Although he has found success on the offensive end, Griffin is a pretty underwhelming individual and team defender, and a woeful free-throw shooter.
While BG has been working closely with shooting guru Bob Thate, his free-throw stroke is still an issue.
Still, Griffin is only 23-years-old and already scary good. There is no ceiling for Lob City's young forward.
Starting Lineup: Small Foward
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Once one of the most dynamic small forwards in the game, Caron Butler's legs have finally caught up with him as he has transitioned into a jump shooter in the latter stages of his career.
While he has taken a step back in his on-court production, Tough Juice is as important as ever for the Clippers on defense and in a leadership capacity. His resilience in playing through a broken hand against the Memphis Grizzlies in last season's first round playoff series spoke volumes to the team's younger guys.
With more insurance at the wing in Grant Hill and Matt Barnes, Butler could become more efficient in less minutes.
Starting Lineup: Shooting Guard
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Chauncey Billups was instrumental in Lob City's hot start last season before going down with an injured Achilles in February.
When Billups was out of the lineup, the Clippers began to falter, losing some of their consistency and stability in the backcourt
Eying an early season comeback, Lob City will need Billups to play at last year's level in order to keep up with the rest of the loaded conference.
Given the disappointing play of interim starter Willie Green, the Clippers need Billups back more than ever. Until he sees some on-court action, it will be difficult to assess the long-term impact of the Achilles injury on his game.
Starting Lineup: Point Guard
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The undisputed leader of the Clippers, Chris Paul will be looking to add to his successful first year in Los Angeles.
With Paul on the court, the Clippers can compete with any team on any given night.
The confidence that he imbued in the team's incredible comeback against the Grizzlies in Game 1 of their first round series demonstrated his competitiveness and significance to this team and organization.
Time and time again, Paul has been the Clippers' best scorer, best defender, best playmaker and best closer.
As Paul goes, so do the Clippers. With a loaded roster at his disposal, this could be CP3's best year yet.