Top 5 Role Players Who Are Most Critical to LA Clippers' Playoff Run

Michael C. JonesContributor IIIApril 29, 2014

Top 5 Role Players Who Are Most Critical to LA Clippers' Playoff Run

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    USA TODAY Sports

    The Los Angeles Clippers need every player from top to bottom to be in sync as they navigate a difficult Western Conference during the 2014 NBA playoffs. 

    That includes the role players who perform in the shadow of superstars Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.

    It's their job to perform specific tasks within the framework of head coach Doc Rivers' offense and defense. Their niche roles are critical in determining the ultimate success of the Clips in the postseason. 

    With that in mind, let's take a look at which complementary players who don't star in their own nationally syndicated commercials will be instrumental for Los Angeles moving forward. 

Jamal Crawford

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Any talk of the Clippers' most important role players has to start with Jamal Crawford. 

    As one of the leading candidates for the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year Award, the sharpshooter provides consistent, efficient scoring off the bench and serves as the catalyst for the second unit. In addition to serving as the team's top reserve, he also started 24 games, as both Paul and J.J. Redick missed significant time. 

    The man with the killer crossover posted a Basketball-Reference.com player efficiency rating of 17.3 during the regular season. The only season he performed better in this metric was in 2009-10, when he earned the honor for the NBA's top bench player for the first time with the Atlanta Hawks

    For the Clippers to succeed in the postseason, they'll need to see more of the same production that earned Crawford consideration for the honor as this season's top reserve.

Glen Davis

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez

    The Clippers' 6'9", 289-pound experiment has turned out to be a pleasant surprise for Rivers and the coaching staff. "Big Baby" started his tenure in Los Angeles slowly due to nagging injuries. 

    Now the big man has found a spot in the rotation, proving he's capable of clogging the middle and eating up key minutes in the interior. Most importantly, he has been able to stay healthy in relief of frontcourt incumbents Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. 

    Though below his career averages, his per 36-minute averages of 8.7 points and 6.8 rebounds per game in the postseason through four games are proving to be serviceable. What's more is that he's shooting 58.3 percent from the field. 

    In order to be the best team in the West, Los Angeles needs to get efficient production from Davis.

J.J. Redick

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez

    Though the injury bug has affected his ability to stay on the floor, J.J. Redick has had the best season of his career as a key secondary player in Los Angeles. 

    That's due to him playing alongside a floor general like Paul, who is an expert at getting his teammates the ball in ideal spots. 

    Redick has rewarded the Clippers' four-year, $26.9 million investment in him by doing exactly what he's being paid to do. He's stretched the floor by knocking down open looks and created havoc for defenses with his stellar off-ball movement. 

    His regular-season numbers, though the sample size is small at just 35 games, illustrate the fact that he's been a solid fit within the framework of Rivers' offense. 

    He notched career-highs with a Basketball-Reference.com PER of 16.6 and a points-per-game scoring average of 15.2 while hitting 39.5 percent of his looks from beyond the arc. 

    Rivers did his due diligence in resting his long-range marksman for the playoffs, and now it's time for Redick to deliver. 

Danny Granger

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    David Zalubowski

    The Clippers didn't know what they were going to get when they signed Danny Granger for the assumed veteran minimum late this season. For that reason, the front office knew any production reaped from the low-risk transaction would be a bonus. 

    Granger started off as a non-factor, but he's since worked his way into good enough form to be a rotation player for Rivers on the perimeter. 

    In 12 regular-season games, Granger put up a strong 17.8 points per 36 minutes. In the postseason, his output dipped to 11.2 points in the same category.

    But he's managed to chew up some minutes with 14.5 per game and has surpassed fellow swingman Jared Dudley in the small forward hierarchy. 

    Again, he hasn't been impressive, but he's managed to find a role within the Clips' schemes. For a castoff who came to Los Angeles as somewhat of an unknown, that's enough. 

Darren Collison

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    Danny Moloshok

    As Paul continues to fight nagging injuries, Collison's role remains critical. The former UCLA Bruin filled in capably and averaged 14.8 points and 5.3 assists as a starter. 

    He was plus-8.2 points as a starter and plus-1.6 as a reserve. He's shown confidence and a command of the offense while being the model of consistency with 15.9 points and 5.2 assists per 36 minutes. 

    In the playoffs, he's been a key reserve with an average of 8.0 points and 4.0 assists per game in 20.8 minutes with a 13.3 player efficiency rating, via Basketball-Reference.com

    The importance of the point guard position can't be understated. Collison is a huge piece of the championship puzzle.