Considering how deep the Clippers are and the holes management patched this summer, there are still reoccurring problems that face this team.
Familiar frustrations are showing early and they are sure to drive fans and coaches crazy. The defense has been anything but improved. Rebounding is still an issue, for some odd reason. Not to mention dropping back-to-back games at home already.
While the Clippers have been inconsistent so far, five frustrating problems must be fixed before they are true title contenders. What are the problems and how can they be fixed? Read on to find out.
One thing most people expected from the Clippers when they acquired Chris Paul was a lethal pick-and-roll set with Blake Griffin. That has yet to develop.
When thinking of the pick-and-roll, John Stockton and Karl Malone come to mind, or more recently Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire. The problem with the Clippers pick-and-roll is that Griffin needs to assert himself as an Amare-like attacker on the roll.
Too often Griffin will settle for a pop when setting a screen instead of attacking the rim. Obviously, Paul can make the play devastating on his own due to his patented pull up jumper from the elbow. But the Clippers are not as deadly as they should be. DeAndre Jordan should be attacking the rim from the weak side with Griffin rolling down the lane and not settling for jumpers.
Entering the season, one of the major problems the Los Angeles Clippers faced was improving their team defense. Last season the defense was average at best, as the Clippers ranked 13th in the league in points allowed per game. Early on this season things have actually gotten worse.
The Clippers inability to defend the paint has forced the defense to collapse and miss rotations. The resulting effect has the team giving up 98.6 points per game, 18th in the NBA. Additionally, the Clippers are allowing opponents to shoot 64.6 percent at the rim.
Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan must improve on defense for the team to be successful. Surely, the Clippers are missing Grant Hill’s perimeter defense, but the young bigs on the roster need to make it difficult for opposing teams to score in the paint.
Looking over the Los Angeles Clippers roster it is hard to imagine them not being one of the best rebounding teams in the league. With so much size and athleticism at every position there is absolutely no excuse for how the team has rebounded so far this season.
Astoundingly, the team ranks 26th in the NBA in rebound differential, being out-rebounded by 1.8 boards per game. Looking closer, the Clippers are giving up nearly 13 offensive rebounds per game and rank 23rd in the league.
Controlling the glass has been a problem for Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan over the past two seasons, but giving up 13 extra possessions per game is not championship caliber performance.
Again, the young bigs on the roster need to play hard and box out on both ends of the floor. Furthermore, controlling their own glass should be a priority because it allows the Clippers to run the floor off misses and transform into Lob City.
Vinny Del Negro is sure to be under the magnifying glass all season long; especially considering his contract expires after the season.
Del Negro was to blame for the team’s slumps last year. Critics pointed out that his offense was vanilla and his defensive schemes were poor at best. While it is still too early to tell if those things have changed, there have been some odd coaching decisions.
Del Negro loves his three-guard lineups and has trotted them out with much more success this season, thanks to Eric Bledsoe’s development. However, the substitution patterns at shooting guard have been baffling.
Bledsoe has been nothing short of extraordinary so far, averaging over ten points per game and recording a PER of 20.22. However, Willie Green has logged more minutes than the electric guard while posting a mere 11.94 PER.
Also, Lamar Odom has been terrible and is obviously out of shape, yet pick-and-pop big man, Trey Thompkins, has not seen the floor over Odom. Chris Paul is deadly when playing with a big man who can stretch the floor, just ask teams who attempted to guard David West in New Orleans.
While the Clippers have talent and depth, the main test this group will face revolves around their intensity level.
There is no question Chris Paul will bring his best every night; however, the same can’t be said about a few of the other players on the roster.
Intensity goes hand-in-hand with the needed improvement on defense. The younger guys such as DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin do not bring their best every night. In fact, you can see the difference between when they play hard—Lakers and Spurs games—and when they loaf—Warriors and Cavs games. That could be due to multiple reasons, but in order to be a title contender, the Clippers have to come out to play like every game matters.
Why? Every game does matter to this team. The Clippers had one of the best offenses in the league last season, yet struggled so badly on defense they wound up slipping to the fifth seed. Considering the way this season could play out and how deep the west is, the Clippers need to earn home-court advantage. The last thing the Clippers want to see is the Lakers, Spurs or Thunder in the first round.