L.A. Clippers Stock Watch: Rising and Falling Players After 1st Month
The Clips' talent and depth have lived up to the preseason hype, as the team reeled off eight wins in its first 10 games. Following a 112-90 bludgeoning of the Dallas Mavericks at home, the Clippers found themselves sitting on a 12-6 record, the best in the Pacific Division.
Lob City’s wins have not been all cupcakes either.
It has been a combination of top-heavy talent from Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, in conjunction with the deepest bench in the league and the precocious development of young guys Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan that have turned the Clippers into an elite team this year.
Here is the L.A. Clippers stock watch, a close look at rising and falling players after the first month of the season.
Statistics used in this article were accurate as of December 5, 2012.
8. Caron Butler
2012-13 stats: 10.1 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 11.70 PER
Breakdown: Early into this season, Caron Butler’s numbers have been down across the board.
Butler has turned largely into a glorified jump shooter and an average perimeter defender.
No one is pointing fingers at Butler for his regression. Tough Juice is a veteran leader on this team, and he has the respect of the entire locker room.
With Matt Barnes in the fold, the Clippers have the depth to compensate for Butler’s underwhelming start. The team can live with poor games in November and December, but the Clips need Butler to come through in the playoffs.
7. Lamar Odom
2012-13 stats: 2.3 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 6.72 PER
Most of this is largely accurate, as Odom came into training camp nearly 30 pounds overweight and completely out of sync on the court.
The last few games are really where Odom has shown flashes of his vintage self.
Given the low expectations for Odom entering this season, any contributions that he brings to the team is a plus. His versatility and playmaking skills will be critical in the playoffs.
6. Willie Green
2012-13 stats: 6.2 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 10.88 PER
Coach Vinny Del Negro insists on starting Green because of his defense and his ability to spread the floor. While Green’s individual defense has been decent, he is averaging just one made three-pointer per game.
Green’s disappointing season perhaps best manifested itself once Billups returned to the lineup for three games before being sidelined with tendinitis. When Billups resumed his starting role, Green quickly found himself on the bench to the tune of three consecutive DNP-Coach’s Decisions
Until Billups regains his form, the Clippers will need Green to contribute something.
5. Jamal Crawford
2012-13 stats: 17.8 PPG, 1.8 APG, 19.47 PER
Breakdown: When the Clippers signed Jamal Crawford to a multi-year deal this offseason, the knock on the combo guard was that he was an inefficient shooter who played terrible defense.
While the criticisms on Crawford’s defense have been largely accurate—the Clips routinely attempt to hide Crawford on the opposing team's worst offensive weapon—his offensive success has been encouraging.
Playing on a team with so much firepower, Crawford has relished his role as sixth man and scorer for the second unit popularly dubbed A Tribe Called Bench.
Crawford is leading the bench in scoring at 17.8 PPG, and he has been a monster in the half court and in transition. He is the early front-runner for the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
4. Eric Bledsoe
2012-13 stats: 9.8 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 2.7 APG, 22.46 PER
Breakdown: Eric Bledsoe’s rapid development has been key to the Clippers' hot start this season.
The primary relief for Chris Paul, Bledsoe is playing with an unprecedented level of organized chaos, wreaking havoc on and off the ball. His numbers per 36 minutes are simply incredible at 19.1 PPG, 5.5 RPG and 5.3 APG.
Mini LeBron is the team’s best perimeter defender and the spark plug who gets the second unit going.
3. DeAndre Jordan
2012-13 stats: 10.2 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 1.9 BPG, 17.78 PER
Breakdown: DeAndre Jordan’s hard offseason work has paid dividends for the Clippers early this season.
For the first four years of his career, Jordan could not be trusted on offense with anything other than lobs and easy jams.
This is no longer the case.
Jordan has a nice lowpost repertoire of short jump hooks and up-and-under moves that have made him a force in the paint.
Defensively, he is getting it done too. For the first time in his career, Jordan has actually become a legitimate stopper near the rim.
DJ is now playing big-time minutes come crunch time. His confidence is on another level, and Lob City will ride his newfound swagger throughout the season.
2. Blake Griffin
2012-13 stats: 17.6 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 20.26 PER
Breakdown: Although Blake Griffin has been producing at a high level this season, his numbers are actually down from last season.
While much of this may be attributed to a career low in minutes, Griffin was rather slow to get out the gates.
Griffin has displayed some nice outside touch from the field, knocking down mid-range jumpers at a consistent level. On defense, his rotations and backline communication have been much better, contributing to a top-10 defensive rating for Lob City this season.
Griffin should start to get it going as the season progresses.
1. Chris Paul
2012-13 stats: 16.1 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 9.5 APG, 25.31 PER
Breakdown: The undisputed mayor of Lob City, Chris Paul has started 2012-13 right where he left off last season.
CP3 is the engine who gets this team going, and his control of the team in the half court and in transition has contributed to this team’s hot start.
The Wake Forest product is again looking like an MVP candidate. With Paul on the court, the Clippers have a chance to win any game on any given night.