The Los Angeles Clippers Top 10 Players of the Decade

Jose SalviatiCorrespondent IIDecember 31, 2009

The Los Angeles Clippers Top 10 Players of the Decade

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    Clipper fans are an admittedly small, but very passionate group. They understand the game and love their team. That was never more evident than when they recently booed Jason Williams of the Orlando Magic each time he had the ball.

    Williams was signed as a free agent August 7, 2008 by the Clippers. He retired September 26, 2008. August 19, 2009 he signed to play with the Magic. He was a Clipper for 50 days, having never once taken the court as a Clipper. The fans still give him the same treatment Kobe Bryant received in Denver.

    Clipper fans are passionate!

    It is for those fans that I submit this obligatory end of year/decade column.

    The decade was kind to the Clippers. 2000-2009 brought us the very best Clipper team to date, some of the very best NBA players of the decade, and stability in the head coach position.

    Compiling the top 10 Clippers players of the decade wasn't difficult. Rating them was. As always, I welcome your comments.

10—Al Thornton

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    Years with the team: 2.5
    Stats: 14ppg.

    Thornton is a prototypical small forward. He is being shuttled back and forth between the bench and starting lineup, but lots of great players started on the same merry-go-round.

    He has a tendency to take some weird looking shots but he makes just enough of them to have it not matter. He is still a work-in-progress but has shown a dedication to hard work and a desire to put in the time to be the best.

    He hired a personal chef and stopped eating the greasy foods that must be a staple for so many young players. Looking forward, he and Blake Griffin could combine to be a formidable one-two punch at the forward position for the Clippers.

    Thornton's offensive game will no doubt improve and he has shown flashes on the defensive side as well.

9—Eric Gordon

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    Years with the team: 1.5
    Stats: 16 ppg.

    The former Indiana Mr. Basketball award winner is a force. Nothing seems to rattle him on the court. Gordon is a scorer with a great sense of the game.

    Like most young players he has to learn how to best deal with the highs and lows of playing at the highest level. The travel, back-to-back games, and quantity of games all seem to take their toll on newcomers to the league. Gordon is no exception.

    He looks like an All-Star one game and then goes 2-13 the other. Gordon will figure it out. He strikes me as the type of player that can hit a zone and go for 40 without blinking an eye.

    World B. Free without the flash. Once he figures it all out and gets his bearings, along with finding a way to work better with Baron Davis, Gordon will be a star.

8—Quinton Ross

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    Years with the team: 4
    Stats: 5ppg., 2rpg.

    How does a q-tip that goes 6'6" and 190 pounds soaking wet get to be a defensive force in the best basketball league in the world? Desire.

    Defense is all about desire and no player in Clipper history had more defensive desire than Quinton Ross. He understood the player he was guarding: his likes and dislikes. He was a pest, always reaching those long arms out to either poke the ball away or disrupt a shot.

    Amazingly he did it all while rarely fouling. He was a defensive specialist. The type of role player every team needs to reach elite status.

    Q. Ross was an important piece of the Clipper puzzle and one of the most troubling player departures for the club.

    Elton Brand leaves, Marcus Camby does an admirable job as a replacement. Cassell leaves and in comes Baron Davis. Ross leaves and the Clippers are left with a gap that's yet to be filled.

7—Baron Davis

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    Years with the team: 1.5
    Stats: 15ppg., 8apg.

    The hype around his "return" to Los Angeles was nice. Seeing the Clippers represented on national spots by the bearded one brought a sense of pride to a franchise that rarely got to enjoy it. Sadly, Davis's performance on the court didn't bring the same flash as the hype around his return did.

    Davis looked like a shell of his former self. The offense seemed forced and he didn't seem happy. There was some serious talk about a trade for the L.A. guard in the first year of his contract!

    Thankfully for Clipper fans that didn't happen. Now in his second year back home, L.A. gets to enjoy the Baron Davis they thought they were getting when he signed.

    He still has moments when he looks to be forcing plays on offense, but this year for every force we get to see a no-look pass for a dunk. For every poor shot taken we get to see a fast break with pizazz, the likes of which L.A. hasn't seen since the 80's.

    Doesn't hurt that we get to see last second heroics against Boston either.

6—Cuttino Mobley

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    Years with the team: 4
    Stats: 14ppg.

    The Clippers were stuck in the hamster wheel. Working hard, or at least appearing to, but in reality going no where. It was embarrassing to see poor Elgin Baylor back on the lottery panel looking like Richard Dawson on the old Match Game game show.

    All that began to change with the signing of Cuttino Mobley in 2005. The Clippers signed a free-agent? No.... Way! He wasn't just a free-agent signing, he was the right free-agent signing. Mobley was the perfect compliment to the team and a great player.

    He makes this list both for this play on the court as well as what he represented off it. Cuttino Mobley was the first step off the hamster wheel for the Clippers.

5—Chris Kaman

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    Years with the team: 7.5
    Stats: 12ppg., 8rpg.

    I admit to missing the long hair Kaman. He was a project that panned out back then. NBA teams regularly pick players based on height. After all, you can't teach tall.

    Yinka Dare, Nikoloz Tskitishvili, Michael Olowokandi, Darco Milic, and on and on were all picked cause of their size, not their skill. Same goes for Kaman. Unlike those I listed however, Kaman blossomed.

    No one cringes when we see him line up for a shot from the free throw line. We don't worry when he goes to his left hand for a hook. The Clipper center is now one of the best in the NBA at his position.

    A testament to hard work and a feather in the Clippers cap. If he doesn't make the All-Star team this year while leading all centers in scoring there is no sense having the game.

4—Lamar Odom

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    Years with the team: 4
    Stats: 15ppg., 7rpg.

    Odom didn't seem to enjoy his time with the Clippers. He even went as far to apologize to then Clipper coach Alvin Gentry for his part in Gentry's firing. All that aside however, its hard to ignore his contribution to the team.

    Danny Manning was the first forward outside of Larry Bird who fit the mold of a "point-forward". Odom was another.

    Odom was as likely to hit an outside shot as he was to make a great pass or lead the fast break. He was, and remains, almost impossible to defend. He may not have enjoyed his time with the Clippers, but we loved having him here.

3—Sam Cassell

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    Years with the team: 2.5
    Stats: 16ppg., 6apg.

    L.A. has everything an NBA player could hope for. Perfect weather, media coverage, hot spots to be seen and to see are plentiful: In short, this is the place to be.

    However, because of the Clippers reputation as a cheap franchise, no one ever seemed to want to come.

    Cassel was told when he was traded to the Clippers that if he took them deep in the playoffs he would be "King of LA." He reportedly replied "that's all I have to do?."

    He loved L.A., energized the team and the city, and led them to the within one game of the NBA Western Conference Finals. Casell was in deed the King of L.A. in 2006.

2—Corey Maggette

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    Years with the team: 8
    Stats: 14ppg., 5rpg

    His strength was in his consistency. His shot was consistent. His ability to get to the line was consistent. His percentage from the line was consistent. Maggette was a rock for the Clippers.

    Always there, always performing well, always consistent. He, like Lamar Odom, has lobbed a little negativity the Clippers way after he left the club but that in no way diminishes his contribution to the team.

    Along with all the aforementioned positives Maggette brought to the Clippers, I miss the man-crush Clipper announcer Ralph Lawler had on him. It was rare to get a close up of Maggette on the telecast without Lawler gushing about his physique. Maybe Lawler misses him most of all.

1—Elton Brand

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    Years with the team: 7
    Stats: 20ppg., 10rpg

    Hands down, no doubt the very best player to wear the red, white, and blue this decade. Brand had Maggette's consistency but at a higher level. He was a professional on and off the court.

    He embraced L.A. developing into a movie producer in the off season. His shot from the top of the key was solid and his pursuit for every rebound was reminiscent of Paul Silas. The only negative in his Clipper resume was how it all ended.

    His departure for Philadelphia on the heels of the team bringing in Baron Davis was odd. However, his contributions while he was here are unmatched. Elton Brand was the Clipper player of the decade.

    Honorable mention to Quinton Richardson, Darius Miles, Bobby Simmons, and Shaun Livingston

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