The Los Angeles Clippers ran into a few major flaws last season, mainly dealing with the composition of their roster. While some of the problems seem to have been corrected on paper, others still remain.
The one hurdle that the Clippers will surely face this season is post scoring in the half court. Although the Clippers finished fifth in points in the paint, according to teamrankings.com, many of those were scored in transition and via dunks and lobs.
Not picking up a player in free agency or via trade who can score on the block might have been a mistake. However, the hope is that Blake Griffin has developed his game enough to beat defenders one-on-one in the paint.
Griffin has consistently shown the ability to beat his defender off the dribble and score at the rim. Unfortunately, unless he is able to string together post moves and utilize counters to keep his defender off balance, the team may struggle in some of the ways it did last season.
Contradictory, the hope among management is that the additions of J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley will keep the floor spread for Griffin to go to work.
Redick and Dudley are career 39-plus percent shooters from three, which will help balance the floor. That added threat should provide extra opportunities for Griffin to attack without worrying about double- and triple-teams.
Another hurdle the team must overcome is its rebounding.
The Clippers averaged 41.6 rebounds per game, ranking them 17th in the league. That will need to improve, especially during crunch time, if the Clippers want to get out of the first round of the playoffs.
Furthermore, Rivers hired Alvin Gentry to help construct his offense. Gentry was on the Suns staff for the past 10 years and is a proponent of small-ball lineups. Fortunately for Gentry, the Clippers are fully capable of playing small and proved as much last season.
Again, the problem remains: How well can the Clippers rebound, especially with a small unit on the floor?
Griffin, especially, needs to improve his rebounding as he recorded career-lows in rebounds per game and total rebound percentage last season, according to basketball reference.
Additionally, DeAndre Jordan needs to improve his game overall so he can stay on the floor. The Clippers need his length and athleticism on the glass. Unfortunately, his free-throw percentage and inability to make an impact on offense limited him to a mere 24.5 minutes per game last season.
Lastly, and perhaps the most immediate hurdle, is the transition from Vinny Del Negro’s system to Doc Rivers’. The Clippers should look different on both sides of the ball this year, but how long will it take for the players to adapt?
Furthermore, how will Rivers adapt to not having someone like Kevin Garnett to sync his defensive schemes? How quickly will Blake Griffin and the rest of the offense adapt to the new additions of Redick and Dudley? Finally, how will the team respond to Alvin Gentry and his offensive philosophies? Doc Rivers seems to agree (via The Los Angeles Times).
As athletic as we are, we didn't run enough. We have to get up and down the floor more offensively. We have to do a better job of our spacing offensively. And we have to find a way to close games. Over anything, that's what stands out. We have to execute as a group better. Each guy has to buy into that execution, and so there's things we have to do.
Although the Los Angeles Clippers look formidable on paper, there will certainly be an adjustment period for all involved. Look no further than the Los Angeles Lakers of 2012-13. All may look well on paper, but it is the actions and results on the floor that matter.
The talent is there, it simply must adapt to new schemes and players.
Outside of a few noticeable issues, the Clippers should pose a major threat to the rest of the conference. But teams need to build chemistry in order to sustain success. Let’s hope the Clippers can accomplish that quickly.