Karl is currently sixth all-time with 1,131 regular-season wins. To put that in perspective, the Clippers have won 1,303 games since entering the league in 1971. This is a franchise that needs a leader, especially someone that holds clout among veterans and young players who still need to develop. Karl would instantly provide stability and credibility to the once-laughingstock of the league.
However, this idea runs far deeper than credibility. George Karl’s system would fit in perfectly with the type of talent currently on the roster.
Karl is a North Carolina alum, which means he implements a lot of secondary breaks in his offensive system. That means he wants his point guards to push the tempo to make the defense react, while the wings fill the corners.
The "big" in this instance is Blake Griffin. Bigs are typically taught to sprint down the opposite side of the floor from the ball and slash to the near block.
This allows an early entry for the big for an easy one-on-one matchup, and also forces teams to get back in transition and make an immediate defensive rotation. The trailing big normally sprints to the opposite side elbow and is ready for pick-and-roll action or a ball reversal.
This style of offense obviously fits into the Clippers’ strengths.
First, Chris Paul is just pushing the ball to force a defensive reaction, not necessarily a fast break. It also allows Paul to get to the elbow and kick or take his go-to jumper. If that does not work, Paul is immediately able to go into a pick-and-roll with the trail man, or catch off a reversal and have Griffin enter a traditional pick-and-roll set.
Pushing the pace is something the Clippers did not do much with Chris Paul in the game. The bench, however, was a different story. Karl’s impact offensively, would fit perfectly with how Eric Bledsoe and Matt Barnes excel. Both players are great in transition, can finish and are also willing defenders.
Defense is one area that Karl should receive more credit for. His teams are typically around league average in defensive rating, according to basketball-reference, despite playing at one of the fastest paces in the league. The Clippers do possess the athleticism and talent to perform well on both ends of the floor, especially if DeAndre Jordan continues to develop on defense.
From George Karl’s perspective, this Clippers job has to be quite interesting. There is young talent, players who are willing to defend, but more importantly, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin.
The last time Karl coached a duo like that, he led the Seattle Sonics to the NBA Finals with Gary Payton and Shawn Kemp. Griffin and Paul have not proven to have Kemp and Payton’s chemistry, but that is one area Karl could definitely help.
Furthermore, Karl has proven that not only can he develop point guards—Gary Payton, Sam Cassell and Ty Lawson—but that his teams excel with talented point guards. Karl would work perfectly with how Chris Paul plays, but can also coax Paul to play at a faster pace.
Overall, George Karl and the Los Angeles Clippers seem like a perfect match. The Clippers have the talent, youth and stars that Karl seeks, while he has a system that fits perfectly with how the Clippers can play.
The only question left unanswered is if Clippers owner Donald Sterling will be willing to pay market value for Karl, who made just over $3 million per year. Should Sterling be willing to pony up the cash, the Clippers will have one of the greatest coaches in league history roaming their sidelines next season.
Let’s hope the last sentence comes true.
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