Winners and Losers from Week 1 of LA Clippers' Preseason
Not too much can be gleaned from one preseason game, but it is never too early to delve into early overachievers and underperformers. Although the Clips looked a bit rusty, they blitzed the undermanned Blazers to the tune of 21 turnovers, to go along with 10 steals and six blocked shots.
Who shined in Rip City? Who has some work to do before opening night? We will look at six early winners and losers, based on court performance as well as regular-season expectations.
Loser: Byron Mullens
The lanky 7’0” shooter, Byron Mullens did not look good in his first game with Lob City.
Known for his ability to stretch the floor, Mullens connected on just two of his 10 field-goal attempts. Compounding his issues, Mullens exhibited some questionable shot selection en route to seven three-point attempts.
The former Charlotte Bobcat did little else, grabbing just two boards matching his turnover total on the night. Mullens finished with a disappointing minus-9 in 16 minutes of action.
Mullens does not have the greatest reputation on defense, and his primary value will be as a deep threat. If he struggles to find the bottom of the net early, then he should expect to play fewer minutes.
Loser: Brandon Davies
Struggling to hang on to an NBA roster spot, Brandon Davies earned just seven minutes of playing time in the Clips’ victory.
A skilled big man during his time at BYU, Davies did not have much of an opportunity to showcase his skills at the Moda Center. Davies looked a bit anxious in his first professional game, finishing with just two points and two boards. Much to Rivers’ chagrin, Davies also coughed the ball up twice in his limited playing time.
Unfortunately for Davies, the only players that played as little or fewer minutes than him were JaMychal Green and Mustapha Farrakhan, both of whom were cut shortly after the game.
Davies should hope that a similar fate doesn't await him. He will have another chance to demonstrate his skill set in the Clippers’ second preseason game against the Utah Jazz.
Loser: Jared Dudley
The Clippers’ starting small forward Jared Dudley did not overly impress in the first game for Los Angeles. Dudley finished with just two points and two rebounds on 25 percent shooting. He did demonstrate his ability to find the open man however, finishing the game with four assists.
A noted three-point specialist throughout his career, Dudley attempted and missed just one long ball. Dudley’s starting spot is certainly not in question, and one preseason game is too small of a sample size to scrutinize his performance too much.
Nevertheless, Clipper Nation should expect better results moving forward.
Winner: Chris Paul
Fresh off of signing a five-year extension with the Clips, Chris Paul looked good in his first exhibition game.
Paul stuffed the stat sheet, finishing with 15 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals. Impressively, CP3 made it to the free-throw line ten times, accounting for nearly one third of Lob City’s attempts.
The Point God looked aggressive and poised, and ready for the start of the season. Paul looks like the MVP candidate that he has always been since touching down in Hollywood.
Winner: DeAndre Jordan
With so many expectations for DeAndre Jordan this season, the big man performed well against the thin Blazers’ frontline.
Jordan finished with a game-high 16 points to go along eight rebounds and four blocks. DJ looked comfortable anchoring his defense and aggressive throughout the game. Incredibly, Jordan converted 80 percent of his free-throw attempts, knocking down four of five from the charity stripe.
Clipper fans might be cautious of putting too much stock in Jordan’s early performances. Last season, DJ started strong before regressing later in the season.
Winner: Doc Rivers
Although the Clippers’ are still learning Rivers’ complex defense, Lob City’s new coach has to be pleased with his team’s defensive effort against the Blazers.
LAC forced 21 turnovers and limited Portland to just 35.9 percent shooting from the field. Last season the Clips really struggled to defend the three-point line, allowing opponents to shoot 37.3 percent from deep, the fifth-worst mark in the league.
Crisp rotations and quick closeouts bothered the young Blazers, who converted just five of their 24 attempts. One game into the preseason, the Clippers limited the Blazers to just 20.4 percent shooting from downtown.
Unfortunately, the small sample size and the context of the exhibition game make it a challenge to evaluate the Clippers’ entire defensive potential. Keeping up the defensive intensity will be key, as the Clippers refine their strategy throughout the rest of the preseason.