Spotlighting and Breaking Down LA Clippers' Point Guard Position
As the NBA landscape has evolved over the years, point guards have not only become one of the most important positions, but the most talented as well. Luckily for the Los Angeles Clippers, they have one of the best point guards in the league—Chris Paul—and have a quality backup—Darren Collison.
Should the Clippers win their division again and advance deep into the playoffs, the point guard position will be a major reason why. Let’s take a look at the Clippers depth chart at point guard and forecast how much of an impact the position will have on the team’s success this season.
2013-14 Projections: 34 MPG, 17 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 10.5 APG, 2.5 SPG, 48.5 FG%, 34.5 3PT%
Chris Paul recently signed a 5-year, $107 million maximum contract, and all eyes are on the All-Star point guard with hopes that he can lead the Clippers to the Western Conference Finals.
Paul has had to cope with a roster that has not exactly fit his style of play the past two seasons; but with the additions of J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley to help spread the floor, Paul now has multiple weapons in place that fit into how he wants to play offensively.
Teams have been able to defend Paul’s pick-and-roll sets with Blake Griffin by overloading the floor and closing off the paint. Now that Paul has two deadly shooters on each side of the floor, the spacing on offense should allow Paul to thrive in ways he has not been able to since leaving the New Orleans Hornets.
Paul’s biggest strength is his ability to breakdown defenses at his own pace. While the Clippers have thrived as an uptempo team, Paul prefers to slow down the game and attack in the half court.
According to Hoopdata, the Clippers ranked 19th in pace in 2012-13. This tempo allowed Paul to use his elite court vision and passing ability to make the right decision on offense.
While Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are still more suited for fast breaks and dunks, Paul’s vision can help elevate their games into a more complex attack. The floor spacing combined with Paul’s talents should allow Griffin, especially, to thrive this season.
Furthermore, the added floor spacing should help boost Paul’s shooting numbers, which have begun to tail off since becoming a Clipper. Last season Paul shot 32.8 percent from three, his second-lowest percentage of his eight year career.
Assuming the additions that management made to the roster live up to par, Paul’s scoring numbers should stay the same, but expect to see his assist total jump into the double digits again. The Clippers are primed to finish top four in the West, meaning Chris Paul should, once again, be in the MVP conversation.
2013-14 Projections: 22 MPG, 8.5 PPG, 2 RPG, 4 APG, .5 SPG, 46.5 FG%, 36 3PT%
After three seasons away from Chris Paul, Darren Collison is back. Collison was drafted by the New Orleans Hornets to back up Paul, and this season he will return to that once familiar role.
Although he did a decent job starting at point guard for the Indiana Pacers and the Dallas Mavericks, Collison was happy to sign on to spell Paul in hopes of winning a title. With Collison in the fold, the point guard position is no longer a worry, despite dealing the electric Eric Bledsoe in the offseason.
Collison will provide some of the traits Bledsoe brought to the table. He is lightning quick, a good defender and has a knack for jumping into passing lanes. While he certainly will not fill Bledsoe’s shoes, he does provide Doc Rivers with a very capable backup point guard.
According to basketball reference, Collison’s career per-36 minute numbers of 14.8 points and 6.3 assists are outstanding for a reserve guard. Expect Rivers to test Collison out in small lineups with Paul and as a true point guard next to Jamal Crawford off the bench.
Much has been made about how cheap the Clippers were able to sign Darren Collison—2 years for $3.88 million. However, the second year of the contract is a player option. Expect the UCLA product to do everything in his power to prove he deserves to be a starting point guard again. That’s good news for Clipper fans, because Collison is a steal at that price.
2013-14 Projections: 6.5 MPG, 2.5 PPG, .2 RPG, 1.2 APG, 32 FG%, 24 3PT%
Although he only saw time in six games last season for the Los Angeles Clippers, Maalik Wayns is primed to become the team’s third point guard this season.
Wayns is a former McDonald’s All-American out of the University of Villanova. Despite playing point guard, Wayns is definitely more of a combo guard. He is versatile with the ball in his hands, but as he proved at Villanova, he looks to score first, second and third.
Regardless, Wayns will barely see time should he make the roster, as the Clippers have two very good point guards ahead of him. Additionally, Jamal Crawford is able to play point, as is J.J. Redick for limited minutes.
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