How did Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe fare this season?
Having finished the regular season with a Los Angeles Clippers’ franchise-best record of 56-26, it is time to give out grades to recognize the Clips that contributed to the organization over the course of the year.
From the stellar leadership of Chris Paul to the continued budding development of Blake Griffin and Eric Bledsoe, Lob City has much to be excited for. However, not everything has been perfect in Clipper Country.
Players will not be graded against each other. For instance, Ryan Hollins will not be measured up against Chris Paul. Criteria for evaluating each Clipper will be based off of individual performances as well impact relative to his entire career and ability to satisfy his role on the team.
All statistics used from NBA.com/Stats, ESPN.com and Basketball-Reference.com.
Ronny Turiaf provided good energy for A Tribe Called Bench.
2012-13 Stats: 1.9 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 9.37 PER
Breakdown: Returning to the City of Angels, Ronny Turiaf brought high energy to A Tribe Called Bench this season. With his trademark finger twirl, Turiaf played with the hustle and effort that has made him a NBA favorite-type glue guy throughout the course of his career.
While Turiaf’s numbers do not jump off the board, he has provided sound value as a member of the high-flying, high-energy second unit. For the most part, Turiaf was average and consistent with his NBA past. He really does exactly what is expected of him.
One of his drawbacks, however, is his chronically awful free-throw shooting. This season, Turiaf shot just 36.5 percent from the stripe.
Grant Hill struggled to find consistent minutes this season.
2012-13 Stats: 3.2 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 4.79 PER
Breakdown: After missing the first 36 games of the season, Grant Hill was unable to fully integrate into Vinny Del Negro’s rotation.
Hill is still important in terms of veteran savvy and locker room leadership, but Clipper fans have to be disappointed with his ineffectiveness on the court. On the year, Hill played in just 29 games overall.
His anemic PER demonstrates his inability to find a groove this season. Chalk it up to limited minutes, but Hill looks like just a shell of his former Phoenix Suns’ self.
Willie Green never complained about his inconsistent role.
2012-13 Stats: 6.3 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 11.85 PER
Breakdown: The consummate professional, Willie Green started 60 of the 72 games that he played in this season. Green is cognizant that he is simply a placeholder in the starting lineup when Chauncey Billups is forced to sit out with injury.
That has not detracted from Green’s success this season. Green knocked down 42.8 percent of his long balls, the third-best percentage his 10-year career. Green had an especially torrid April, in which he knocked down 56.3 percent of his three-pointers.
It is hard to criticize Green given his skill set and ability to seamlessly transition from consistent starter to consistent benchwarmer.
One of the few defensive plays that Ryan Hollins did not commit a foul on.
2012-13 Stats: 3.4 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 11.37 PER
Breakdown: Ryan Hollins has enjoyed success coming off the bench this season. Sharing minutes with other high-energy big man Ronny Turiaf, Hollins is primarily brought in to give opposing big men trouble.
Hollins has worked well in this role, but he needs to do a better job of defending opposing bigs without picking up fouls. Hollins averaged a whopping 7.2 fouls per 36 minutes this season.
The UCLA product might never be a starting center in this league, but Hollins is a serviceable big off the bench.
Chauncey Billups only appeared in a handful of games this season.
2012-13 Stats: 8.4 PPG, 2.2 APG, 15.00 PER
Breakdown: Fighting off nagging injuries, Chauncey Billups was only able to play in 22 games this year. While Billups was effective in some of his contests, he also struggled to produce consistently.
His final two games of the regular season indicate this trend. Starting at home against the Portland Trail Blazers, Mr. Big Shot was nearly non-existent, scoring four points on 0-of-5 field goals. The following night, Billups went off in a win against the Sacramento Kings, scoring 17 points on 5-of-8 shooting.
Significantly, Billups also takes away minutes from up-and-comer Eric Bledsoe. In the 17 games in which Bledsoe and Billups have played together, Mini LeBron has logged an average of just 17.2 minutes per game, down nearly three minutes from his regular-season average.
Conceding minutes to a savvy veteran might be key for team chemistry, but Coach Del Negro has to find a way to get his best guys more minutes, even if it is at the expense of someone as accomplished as Mr. Big Shot.
Lamar Odom's second stint on the Clippers has been disappointing.
2012-13 Stats: 4.0 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 10.95 PER
Breakdown: Struggling to play himself into shape for much of the first half of the season, Lamar Odom still looks to be finding his role in Lob City.
Odom has noted confidence issues and has been unable to return to his Los Angeles Lakers former self. The player the Clippers thought they would be acquiring in a package for Mo Williams has yet to be seen over a sustainable period of time.
LO’s 4.0 PPG is the worst of his career, surprisingly worse than his lone season on the Dallas Mavericks. Inexplicably, however, Del Negro still opts to play him an unbelievable 19.7 minutes per game.
With his contract set to expire at the end of the season, Lamar Odom could be on his final days in Lob City.
Tough Juice still finds ways to contribute.
2012-13 Stats: 10.4 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 12.50 PER
Breakdown: Since recovering from knee surgery two seasons ago, Caron Butler has lost much of the explosiveness and playmaking capabilities that characterized his peak years as a member of the Washington Wizards.
Butler still finds ways to contribute through his adept three-point shooting and his toughness. Tough Juice shot a superb 46 percent from the corner three this year.
While Butler might still be yearning for the past, he composes a solid one-two punch from the wing along with backup Matt Barnes.
Matt Barnes is enjoying one of the best seasons of his career.
2012-13 Stats: 10.3 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 15.57 PER
Breakdown: Enjoying something of a renaissance season, Matt Barnes has really thrived alongside Chris Paul.
The recipient of many timely cuts and open jumpers, Barnes converted 46.2 percent of his field goals on the season, the fourth-best mark of his career. Whether Barnes is running the break with A Tribe Called Bench or grinding during crunch time, his defense and athleticism makes him a perfect fit on this squad.
Barnes might have been the NBA's most underrated signing of the offseason.
It has been a season of highs and lows for DeAndre Jordan.
2012-13 Stats: 8.8 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 17.21 PER
Breakdown: Despite little change in his career numbers, DeAndre Jordan is enjoying the best season of his young career. Playing with a newfound confidence, Jordan has developed a soft jump hook and a savvy up-and-under move.
He is still known for his rim-rattling jams, but Jordan finally looks comfortable playing alongside Paul and Griffin. His per 36 minutes averages of 13.0 PPG and 10.6 RPG are a testament to his development. Moreover, his defensive presence has been key and well-noted, especially relative to backup reserve Lamar Odom.
Still, there are areas where Jordan could improve.
He still has bad hands and often fumbles low passes. Despite working closely with renowned shooting coach Bob Thate, Jordan is still a dismal 38.6 percent from the free-throw line. Jordan needs to progress in these facets or he might never earn the crunch time trust of head coach Vinny Del Negro.
Eric Bledsoe is a monster off the bench.
2012-13 Stats: 8.5 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.1 APG, 17.60 PER
Breakdown: Continuing his upward trend from last postseason, Eric Bledsoe was the engine that kept A Tribe Called Bench running this year. Bledsoe is the type of spark that can stuff the stat sheet and impact both sides of the ball.
His per 36 minutes averages of 14.9 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 5.4 APG and 2.5 steals per game suggest that he is capable of playing heavy minutes in this league.
Despite playing only the seventh-most minutes on the team, Bledsoe had the third-highest PER. The NBA’s best kept secret for much of the year could enjoy a huge coming-out party this postseason.
Jamal Crawford looked like a Sixth Man of the Year winner.
2012-13 Stats: 16.5 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 2.5 APG, 16.89 PER
Breakdown: Rebounding nicely from his forgettable season on the Trail Blazers, Jamal Crawford has fit in nicely as the Clippers’ sixth man.
Still the owner of the smoothest crossover in basketball, Crawford has been a terror for defenders, knocking down 43.8 percent of his field goals, the third-best mark of his career. Crawford can still take some inefficient shots, and his quick trigger has led to some poor decision-making.
This year Crawford took 273 mid-range jumpers and converted 43 percent of them. He would be wise to continue to head to the hoop, where he is shooting 61 percent from the restricted area.
Still, Crawford’s comeback season was anything but an aberration. He will be a key factor in Lob City’s postseason run.
Welcome to the Blake Show.
2012-13 Stats: 18.0 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 3.7 APG, 22.4 PER
Breakdown: Despite a dip in career averages, Blake Griffin is enjoying the most complete year of his career. Griffin has tightened up his defense, expanded his mid-range game and thrived as a facilitator.
Since the All-Star break, Griffin has been averaging a whopping 4.0 APG. He looks more poised on defense and is a serviceable back-line defender.
His jump shot has improved as well, perhaps as best indicated by his improvement in free-throw percentage. Griffin shot 66 percent from the line this year as opposed to just 64.2 percent the year before. Qualitatively, Griffin just looks more comfortable on the line. While there still is room for improvement, Clipper Nation has to be happy with Griffin’s development.
The All-NBA big man is still nowhere near reaching his ceiling and looks poised to become the most dominant power forward in the league.
The Point God has been unstoppable this season.
2012-13 Stats: 16.9 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 9.7 APG, 26.43 PER
Breakdown: The mayor of Lob City, Chris Paul has continued to dazzle in another MVP-like season. CP3 is the team’s best scorer, best perimeter defender and best leader.
Paul is the catalyst that keeps Lob City moving. Without the Point God, the Clippers are a fringe playoff team, as evinced by their 6-6 record without CP3 in the lineup.
Other then a 12-game absence while recovering from a knee injury, there is not a blemish on Paul’s resume this season. If the Clippers are to reach new heights, CP3 will be the one to take them there.