Editorial Note: There have not been reports, yet, on Elton Brand officially (non verbal) going to the Sixers, but for the sake of this article, Elton goes to the Sixers and Baron Davis goes to the Clippers.
After the first announcement of Baron Davis coming to LA, I was excited to see how much the Clippers would improve after last year’s disaster missing Brand, Cassell, and Livingston for the majority of the season. I thought that Elgin Baylor would pull a Danny Ainge and start bringing in proven veteran stars. Brand’s decision will affect both Brand and how the Clippers go about this offseason.
From Brand’s perspective, it was a good move on his part to leave LA. Even with Davis, Brand realized that the Clippers would have another tumultuous year in the powerful Western Conference. Personally, I think they would have been a 9th or 10th seed. Going east would be Brand’s only hope of returning to the playoffs. The Sixers surprised many by putting up a fight with the Detroit Pistons last year. With the addition of Brand, they have a chance to make the second round.
Disregarding the money involved in the deal, the Sixers was an interesting choice. The two leaders of the team, Andre Iguodala and Andre Miller, thrive in the open court where as Brand does better in a more traditional half court offense. Brand provides that additional defensive presence for the Sixers, but his offensive numbers are likely to drop. It will be interesting to see how these two styles will be used.
From the Clippers perspective, they almost had two proven veterans and were down to one. Corey Maggette appears to be leaving to Golden State. Eric Gordon was drafted. The starting lineup next year looks to be Davis, Cuttino Mobley, Tim Thomas, Al Thornton, and Chris Kaman. Draftees Eric Gordon and De Andre Jordan still need to be developed and hopefully will have a Thornton-like rookie year. Shaun Livingston looks to be back after missing most of last year. If the Clippers can sign Josh Smith, that would provide some athleticism to this roster.
Offensively, it looks like Davis will be bringing the Golden State Warrior’s offensive schemes with him. With this lineup, Davis knows how to run the Warrior system perfectly by driving and dishing when necessary. Mobley and Thomas like to stay in the mid range to three point zone and shoot the ball when they get it. Thornton and Kaman, to a certain extent, are mobile and can get up and down the floor to fill the fast break lanes. Adding Smith would provide another slasher/fast break option. In college Gordon and Jordan were both mobile and knew how to score on the break. Does coach Mike Dunleavy favors the half court system or was that only because that favored Brand? Defensively, replacing Brand and Maggette will be a tough task.
The Clippers next few moves look to shape how the season will be.