How to Fit New L.A. Clippers Additions with Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Co.
Over the course of the offseason, the Los Angeles Clippers completely overhauled their roster.
On the surface they might look largely the same given that their starting five from a season ago are all back (though Chauncey Billups is still sidelined with that Achilles injury), but the second unit is filled with fresh, new faces.
The new kids on the block are anything but kids. They're grizzled veterans, and they've all been around the block (and around the league).
Former standouts like Lamar Odom, Jamal Crawford and Grant Hill have come aboard, as have seasoned rotation stalwarts like Matt Barnes, Willie Green and Ryan Hollins.
Having such depth is a blessing during an NBA season where injuries —and slumps— can crop up at any time.
But can it be too much? The trick for Vinny Del Negro and the players themselves will be to find the perfect role to complement Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
If the Clippers are able to brew the right blend in the rotation, they'll be a dangerous team come playoff time.
Let's take a look at how the new guys can fit in next to their All-Star teammates.
Here's a fun fact: Matt Barnes has played for every team in the Pacific Division. Fitting for a guy who was born in Santa Clara, went to high school in Sacramento, and attended college in Los Angeles.
Now in his second stint with the Clippers, Barnes will be part of an energetic second unit. He can fit in next to virtually anyone with his grit-and-grind style.
Barnes can fill up a stat sheet. He's a terrific rebounder for his size and racks up a surprising amount of assists. The one thing he needs to do is hit open three-pointers.
He'll be open for them all day long, but he needs to do better than his 33 percent career average to maximize his minutes on this team.
At the same time, Crawford can be incredibly frustrating. He loves to shake-and-bake while his teammates stand around watching and can often get sucked into awful shots, but when he's on, oh boy is he on.
Thankfully for the Clips, Crawford has been on so far this season. He's a perfect fit off the bench as a sixth man who can be a go-to scorer for the second unit and be a spot-up shooter and secondary playmaker when he's in with the starters.
Another Sixth Man of the Year award is in play for Crawford this season.
The Willie Green signing was one of the more unheralded moves that the Clippers made this summer, but it was still pretty savvy.
Green has never wowed anyone Jamal Crawford-style, but his game is simple and effective.
He works hard at both ends, runs the floor and knocks down open threes. That's exactly the role he is playing right now as he fills in at shooting guard in L.A.'s starting lineup.
So far this season Green has been lights-out, hitting 54 percent of his shots and knocking down 46 percent of his threes, good for a mind-boggling true shooting percentage of .666. That number would have been fourth in the entire league last season.
He's already found his role on the team. The only question is how much playing time will he get once Chauncey Billups gets back on the floor?
We may have not seen Grant Hill play yet this year, but we know what his eventual role will be on the Clippers.
He will be asked to defend the opposing team's top perimeter threat for stretches and use his silky touch to knock down open jumpers.
Hill doesn't stretch the floor, but he's shown that he's capable of incredible efficiency while leaning heavily on mid-range jumpers. In his first four seasons with the Suns, Hill shot between 48 and 54 percent from the floor before slipping a bit last season.
Now alongside Chris Paul, expect Hill's efficiency to get back to the level it was at when he first joined forces with Steve Nash.
Other than that, he doesn't give the team much. He's passable on defense but atrocious on offense, and he's actually a very poor rebounder for his size.
Last season, Hollins' total rebound rate placed him outside the top 150 in the league, behind some players who are derided for their poor rebounding like Andrea Bargnani and Michael Beasley (not to mention the illustrious Luke Babbitt).
So far this year Hollins is turning the ball over and fouling at astronomical rates (4.2 turnovers, 9.5 personal fouls per 36 minutes), so I'd expect his minutes to be reduced when (If?) Lamar Odom remembers that he plays in the NBA.
Speaking of Lamar Odom, I am now in full-fledged panic mode over whether he will become a usable rotation player at some point this season.
Odom was supposed to contribute heavily as the first big man off the bench, but by looking at his body and his play on the court it seems like just getting up off the bench saps all his energy.
If he can get back into shape, Odom's skill and versatility on both ends of the floor will turn the Clippers' second unit into the most feared bench mob in the league, but he needs to put a lot of work in at the gym to return to his form from his Sixth Man of the Year days.
Ronny Turiaf brings two things to the court: hustle and energy.
He's not capable of doing a ton, but he isn't afraid to mix it up down low and he's got the ability to be a prolific shot-blocker—though at the expense of excessively fouling.
As the fifth big man in the Clippers' rotation, no one is expecting much out of Turiaf this season, but if pressed into service he can be a poor man's version of what Reggie Evans was for the Clips last season.
That may not sound like much, but hey, Evans was a key cog in the playoffs last year so...yeah, you're right, let's just hope that Odom gets back into shape soon.