Setting the Perfect Role for Each LA Clippers Newcomer
The Los Angeles Clippers started free agency with a flurry, acquiring several new players. Each of them was targeted and acquired to fulfill a certain role on the team, either by addressing a weakness or replacing a former player.
Outside shooting was a serious concern for the team last season and seems to have been fixed after the team acquired J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley in a three-team trade that sent out the electric Eric Bledsoe and Caron Butler.
The departure of Bledsoe left a major hole behind Chris Paul, who re-signed to a five-year maximum contract. The Clippers targeted Darren Collison to play his once-familiar role of backing up Paul. Collison was Paul’s reserve when the two played together for the New Orleans Hornets.
But what role will each of these new additions, and rookie Reggie Bullock, play on a Clippers team that is expected to compete for the Western Conference Finals?
Redick’s role changed when we was traded from the Orlando Magic to the Milwaukee Bucks. In Orlando, Redick was used primarily as a ball-handler. His usage and assist percentages dropped off from his career-high numbers in Orlando, according to basketball reference. Although, assuming Redick starts next to Paul, his numbers should be somewhere in the middle and more towards his career averages.
Redick is known as a knock-down shooter but is also more than capable of serving as a secondary ball-handler, much like Chauncey Billups was used the past two seasons. However, the most important aspect of Redick’s role in Los Angeles will be his ability to run off screens and connect from three-point range.
Redick will provide the Clippers a dimension in the half-court offense that the team sorely lacked the previous two seasons. He will be used much like Doc Rivers used Ray Allen as a Boston Celtic. Running off screens and redirecting the defense’s focus, Redick will be making it much more difficult to defend Paul and Blake Griffin.
Much like the departed Caron Butler, Dudley will be relied upon to be a two-way player hitting from the perimeter and defending opposing teams' top wing scorer. Dudley proved that he is extremely effective in that role because it is the same type of role he played for the Phoenix Suns.
Dudley will help space the opposite side of the floor from Redick and has proven he is a deadly threat from three, shooting 40 percent from deep during his career. Still, it will be his solid defense and intensity that stands out.
According to 82games, Dudley held opposing small forwards to a PER of 15.3 last season. While he will never be mistaken for Tony Allen on defense, holding the West’s small forwards to a league average PER is pretty impressive when you consider he played on a porous Suns defense.
Although he has not improved upon a promising rookie season in New Orleans, Darren Collison has become an extremely reliable backup point guard.
Collison is a solid shooter from three at 36 percent for his career, sets up his teammates extremely well and limits his turnovers. He also gives the second unit a burst of speed that made them extremely difficult to defend under Eric Bledsoe last season.
Defensively he is nowhere near as aggressive as Bledsoe and does not jump out in passing lanes but has proven that he is a steady team defender, which should bode well considering Doc Rivers is now his coach.
Expect to see Collison play a more stable version of Eric Bledsoe. Less highs and lows, but Collison is a steady point guard and one who can guide a second unit desperately in need of a primary distributor. Playing next to Jamal Crawford, Collison’s strengths should be highlighted, as he can create good looks for Crawford.
The Clippers added one of the best shooting wings in the entire 2013 NBA draft. Even more impressive is that Bullock is another two-way player who could see time at shooting guard and small forward.
Scouts raved about Bullock’s shooting and ability to move without the ball at North Carolina. He has a beautiful stroke, as evidenced by him knocking down 43.6 percent of his three-point attempts last season.
According to ESPN.com, Doc Rivers was impressed with Bullock’s defense during one workout he attended.
"I didn’t know he could defend the way he did in that workout," Rivers said. "I had heard about it, but I was surprised at his size and the way he defends.”
Although he might not crack the rotation early, Bullock provides additional wing depth should the team need another shooter, athletic defender or if someone goes down with an injury.
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