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CP3, BG resigning with clips all but done
JGlanton » 02/21/17 » 7:54am
02/22/17 » 10:20am
WNBA Star Comes Out
JGlanton » 02/22/17 » 8:53am
02/22/17 » 9:30am
Rhy1244 » 01/31/17 » 5:57pm (Page: 1, 2, 3)
02/22/17 » 9:27am
Lakers trade Lou Williams to the Rockets for Brewer and 1st round pick
htownfan » 02/21/17 » 5:41pm
02/22/17 » 7:35am
Cousins traded to the Pelicans...
Griffin5 » 02/20/17 » 3:15am (Page: 1, 2)
02/21/17 » 6:07pm
The Clippers’ ageless 6th man is as spry as ever. But has his play held up in his fifth season on the team?
Shapan Debnath: C
Incredibly, Jamal Crawford's splits are very familiar to last year, when he was awarded 6th man of the year if almost by default. His recent hot shooting streak has pulled those percentages back up, but the flaws in Jamal's game remain the same. He's still the same guy that ices the rest of the offense and can't keep up on defense. With the emergence of Austin Rivers and strong play of Raymond Felton, Crawford has never felt more superfluous. Jamal's incredible flash makes it seem like no one can get buckets quite like he does, but relying on him in big playoff moments has mostly proven to be a recipe of disaster. At this point, it's almost hard to fault Jamal. He is who he is, and he's done well to pull himself out of a slump. But highlighting him so much often detracts from this team more than we'd like. It's too bad his contract makes him so hard to move, as his style is still easy to become infatuated with on the outside looking in.
Thomas Wood: C+
Maybe it's his three-month swoon. Or maybe it's Austin Rivers' rise. Whatever it is, Jamal feels like more of an unnecessary luxury item than ever. Recent heroics notwithstanding, the stalwart bench scorer has had a subpar season by his standards, which isn't unexpected given that he's now old enough to run for President. His game is as eye-catching as ever, but is attached to more variance. Oh, and he's still owed nearly $30 million.
Robert Flom: C+
It’s not Jamal’s fault that Doc Rivers gave him such a massive deal. His expectations relative to that contract would put this grade far lower, but because I never expected him to live up to that contract anyway, he gets a passing grade from me. On the surface, he is having a virtually identical season to last year— similar shooting percentages, rebounds, steals. But he isn’t. He is scoring two fewer points per game, and is going to the line one less time per game. That means his efficiency is dropping along with his usage, a bad combination. Jamal can still be a deadly scorer when hot, and he has pulled the Clippers to several wins this season. That can’t be discounted, even though it comes with subpar (at best) defense and an equal amount of games that he shoots the Clippers out of. On the whole, though, Jamal has been around what I expected him to be, maybe a bit worse. If he isn’t traded, let’s hope he can ride his recent hot streak into the playoffs.
Max Jeffrey: D+
Jamal Crawford possesses the rare ability to single-handedly shoot a team out of a rut. The problem is, far more often than not, this ability is utilized in a manner that is detrimental to the team’s overall success. Crawford is best known in his career for his highlight plays, a collection of well-contested shots often preceded by deft dribbling and demoralizing crossovers. He also has some notable accolades: he is the NBA’s all-time leader in four-point plays, is its only three-time Sixth Man of the Year recipient, and is tied for 5th place, along with Vince Carter, for most career three-point field goals made. Crawford has an unrelenting love for the game, and is known by past and present teammates as one of the best locker room presences around. All of this makes it all the more puzzling that he chooses to play the way he does. In year one of a 3-year/$42 million contract, Crawford has certainly underachieved. Early on, he appeared poised for success; through the Clippers excellent 14-2 start to the season, Crawford looked to move the ball and helped get teammates easier shots during possessions, and when he had opportunities for good open looks, he avoided putting the ball down on the floor. But following that great start, in the midst of a series of unfortunate injuries to teammates, Crawford has fallen back into bad habits. He continually gets himself into isolation situations that hog nearly entire possessions, which, on the surface, appear to serve no greater purpose than to hunt for yet another highlight play. Crawford gives up great catch-and-shoot opportunities along the perimeter for poorly-executed jumpers within the arc. On the season, Crawford is shooting just 40% from the field and only 34.4% from beyond the arc. And despite averaging 12.4 points in 26.9 minutes per game, he has a Net Rating of -1.2 and a Plus-Minus of 0.6. And never mind that he’s a complete liability defensively. Crawford tends to be a feast-or-famine type shooter, so none of this comes as a complete surprise. But at 36 years-old and earning roughly $14 million per season, Crawford is playing far below his current value.
Kenneth Armstrong: B
The "Traditional Stats" will tell you that Jamal is basically having the same exact season as he did last year. The only difference is that he is scoring two fewer points per game, shooting fewer free throws per game, and has a lower free throw percentage. But this last month, Jamal seems to be much more effective (ignoring the Clippers' last game against Atlanta). In February, his field goal percentage is up to 48% and three-point is at 43.5% -- if he can keep that up, he will have a nice rhythm going into the playoffs.
Mo Speights was a much hyped acquisition this summer, a player who the Clippers acquired on the cheap. He has been worth every dollar and more
Thomas Wood: A
There's only one number you need to know, and that's Speights' 39% splash rate on three-pointers. It took a long time, but Mo Buckets has added Mo Distance to give Doc Rivers the stretch 5 he has so shamelessly coveted. The rest of this grade comes from watching and enjoying the man go to work. If you don't like Mo, you don't like fun.
Robert Flom: A
Mo Speights has been a delight to watch this season. His proclivity for drawing charges, his insane ability to make seemingly ever three point shot he takes as a trailer on a fastbreak, his ability to get a crowd going...all of these things have endeared him to Clippers’ fans in under one season. Mo is hitting a career high on three pointers while also playing (at times) the best defense of his career. Doing all this on a minimum contract makes him one of the great bargains in the NBA, and an easy candidate for an ‘A’ grade.
Shapan Debnath: B+
Mo Buckets has been a big boon to the Clippers second unit offensively. After years of failure with stretch fours, Doc Rivers finally found his guy in Mo, who is currently shooting an awesome 39.3% from 3 point range. Mo has never seen a shot he doesn't like, and even his heat check shots are sometimes a welcome sight after watching Craw Ball all these years. He's gotten to the point where if he's open from the perimeter, there's a decent amount of trust that he could make the shot. The quicker you tell yourself that, the better it is, because if he's open, the shot is going up. Mo has made a believer out of me, someone that has not enjoyed his game for a very long time. I use to criticize Mo for being an all offense no defense guy, and really, that hasn't changed too much. Can't quite give him that A when his poor pick and roll defense becomes a focal point of the opponent's attack, but we didn't expect him to be a defensive stalwart, did we? You have to at least applaud effort with all those charges he manages to draw. Mo is definitely the kind of guy you can't stand until he's on your team, then you realize why he was so loved elsewhere.
Kenneth Armstrong: B
Mo worked his way into a really good two-month stretch during December and January but he has come back to earth a little bit this month. His three point shooting (including a cool one-three-per-game streak) has been a good bonus for the team this season; however, the Clippers have asked a lot out of him (as they have with many other players this season). He's not a great defender and he fouls a lot, so he only gets a B from me. I do think he will be a huge plus in the playoffs, given his experience, and will prove to be what we thought we were getting from Josh Smith.
Max Jeffrey: A
Getting Marreese Speights on a veteran’s minimum deal was probably the steal of the offseason. Speights, arguably the best reserve for the Clippers this season, has given the second unit a much-needed offensive boost. Speights is averaging 9.9 points and 4.7 rebounds while shooting 44.9% from the field and 39.3 percent from beyond the arc in just 16.5 minutes of play per game. Speights has been extremely productive even in very limited minutes, and what makes him perhaps most valuable to the Clippers is his flexibility and range for their front court rotation; he can play alongside Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan and opens up the floor for either because he is a true perimeter threat. He averages 1.4 three-point shots made on 3.6 attempts per game in less than half the minutes of a typical NBA starter; for further perspective, he has made 79 total three-point attempts this season, ranking him 2nd amongst all current NBA centers from behind the arc. Speights has also provided some much-needed rebounding in limited minutes; he ranks 2nd on the team in Offensive Rebound Percentage (8.0%), Defensive Rebound Percentage (23.4%), and total Rebound Percentage (15.9%). Additionally, he ranks 4th on the team in Player Impact estimate, only behind Chris Paul, Griffin, and Jordan. After losing highly-productive backup center Cole Aldrich during the offseason to Minnesota, the Clippers had a huge void to fill. Speights has far-exceeded expectations and has quickly become a fan favorite for the Clippers in the process.
First, the Lakers owe a major salute to Mitch Kupchak.
Not the Kupchak who was shoehorned into the big chair with Jim Buss when the Lakers disastrously traded for Steve Nash and signed Dwight Howard and soared helplessly into space like Elton John's Rocket Man.
Not him. Rather, the Kupchak who hung the 2009 and 2010 title banners when he got Pau Gasol, and the one who got enough for Shaquille O'Neal to keep the Lakers presentable.
It’s all crickets now, but there’s going to be action as the deadline gets closer.
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Blake Griffin has been out of the spotlight for most of the season with injuries. But when healthy, his play has been stellar. Here are our writer’s grades for him this season.
Thomas Wood: B+
I can't quite push Blake into A-territory when's been unavailable for such a sizable chunk of season. I didn't punish Chris Paul in the same way, but CP's injury seems more like bad luck and Blake's more like bad physiology (or, um, a bad training staff). But, when he's been on the court he's been aces, particularly since his return. He's showing again that he can be a one-man offense, a blessing in that it offers the team playmaking redundancy, and a curse in that the redundancy offers fans and media fuel for trade rumors.
Kenneth Armstrong: B+
This one is hard to think through. The numbers, in just thirty-six games played, hold up pretty well to Blake’s standards. His scoring is on pace, free throws are even better, and he is more comfortable shooting the three pointer. Oh - and he has become a better, more creative passer. But he’s losing some points off of my rubric because he’s been absent. I do not wish to blame Blake for his injury; however, he has a little bit of work to make up.
Max Jeffrey: A
Blake Griffin is the focal point of the Clippers offense, and with good reason. He can do it all: score, rebound, pass, handle…the only thing he hasn’t been able to do is remain healthy. But Griffin leads the Clippers in points scored (21.9), minutes played (33.3), field goal attempts (16.7), field goal makes (8.2), free throw attempts (6.9), and free throw makes (5.2) per game despite missing 20 games this season due to injury. He also ranks 2nd in rebounds (8.8), assists (5.0), steals (1.1), and blocks (0.6) per game, as well as 2nd in Offensive Rating (114.1), Net Rating (10.7), Assist Percentage (25.2%), and Plus-Minus (7.0). The Clippers are 24-12 in games Griffin has played this year, and while he’s only been back for a short while, he and the rest of the team appear to have reclaimed their rhythm as they hope to extend their current four-game win streak. Griffin has been able to extend his shooting range out beyond the arc, and has been encouraged by Doc to do so more often since his return. The Clippers need Griffin just as badly as they need Chris Paul in their lineup, and with Paul still sidelined for another few weeks, Griffin’s importance will continue to become magnified.
Shapan Debnath: B+
Maybe you'd want to give Griffin lower than this just based on all the games he's missed, but this last stretch made me want to give him a quality grade. He's really flashed that form that made him so dangerous during our playoff run against the Spurs/Rockets, facilitating so well and also keeping good focus defensively these last couple of games. It's easy to forget what a brilliant passer Griffin is, and a stretch without Chris Paul really makes you appreciate that fact. If we can have this Blake for the postseason, then we can really make some noise.
James Nisky: A
He's balling his mind out since returning from injury. He's played in as many games as Chris Paul, but his injuries have been more severe. Anyway, he's 12th in the league in +/-, right behind LeBron James. But check this, Blake Griffin is one of five players in the league averaging at least 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists per game, along with Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and LeBron James, and he's doing it playing fewer minutes per game that all of those players and with the second fewest field goal attempts per game. Of that group, Blake has the second highest +/- (7.0 compared to LeBron's 7.1). If we made 8 rebounds per game a requirement for this list, then we could even bump LeBron off as well. The biggest takeaway from that comparison? The other four guys are ranked 1, 2, 4, and 5 in the MVP race right now. The only thing keeping Blake from being in that top 5 is that he's played about 20 games fewer than those guys. This hard data supports what the eye test has told us all for a while; Blake Griffin is one of the few, genuine, do-a-bit-of-everything-and-do-all-of-it-well players in the league. It would be easier to mentally bend a spoon than figure out why Blake doesn't get the crazy media love the other members of that esoteric list do, but there's no need to rationalize or intellectualize the issue. Blake is a top 10 player in the NBA, and if he keeps pace, should probably be a sleeper pick for an all-NBA team.
Robert Flom: A-
Blake Griffin’s season can be broken down into three parts: pre-injury, injury, and post-injury. Pre-injury he was playing excellent basketball, if mostly unspectacular. He was content to take a backseat to a red-hot Chris Paul, but the team was playing at a superb level, so it was the right decision. Then came the injury, and all was woe. His long absence sapped the Clippers’ season of whatever momentum it had, and has led to them being 4th in the Western Conference instead of 2nd or 3rd. The consequences that had on the season can’t be ignored. Fortunately, since Blake has come back, he has been absolutely terrific, leading the Clippers to a four game win streak— and keeping them within reach of the Rockets. He will need to play this well until Chris Paul returns to maintain the Clippers’ position. Far more importantly, he must play at this level (while at the same time meshing with Chris Paul) if the Clippers are to have any chance of beating the Golden State Warriors. He has it in him, all he needs is good health.
DeAndre Jordan went to his first All Star game this past weekend. Did he deserve that honor for his play this season? Our writers decide.
Kenneth Armstrong: A
His free throws have crept up to 50%, which is a great seven point jump from last year. This has dissuaded opponents from hacking him, late in games, and has helped the Clippers play their game in the fourth quarter. He is still crazy efficient as a shooter/ dunker (69%, leading the league again) and is top three in rebounding per game (about 14 per game). I have been worried about his involvement in the offense, which is often low when Chris Paul is out of the line up, but hopefully he will find more opportunities with Blake back.
Shapan Debnath: B
DJ has been mostly good all year, but I do find myself occasionally forgetting he's on the floor while watching this team, and that's probably because the defense has gone many stretches completely hemorrhaging points. Maybe I'm taking Jordan for granted a bit, but then you see other stretches where he totally dominates on both ends, being a defensive menace while also being a dive man that has to absolutely be reckoned with. I can forgive Jordan being less of a great roll man with Paul being out, but those stretches where I don't feel him on the defensive end keep me from giving him a higher grade.
Thomas Wood: B
The All-Star debutante was the Clippers' lone representative, another formality in his inclusion in the team's Big Three. DeAndre continues to refine all parts of his game, and he's added more to his low-post offense while excising more of his few remaining defensive bad habits. But his dominance next to Chris Paul and Blake Griffin made his mediocrity in their absence more apparent. His malaise became the team's, as the Clippers scuffled their way out of the West's top three. DeAndre's earned the plaudits, but he's also earned the weight of higher expectations.
James Nisky: B
DJ has been durable as usual, and doing things like defending and rebounding in ways other men his size can't. DJ is on a max deal, and in the Clippers' system which is built around Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, he's worth it. This season has shown DJ play without a combination of Blake and/or DJ for longer than any stretch since 2011, and it's frustrated Clips fans at times. DJ is in as good of shape as ever, but he's look disinterested in some road games this year. DJ is an energy/will big man, and players like that must go 100% every game, and there's been a few too many half efforts for me to give an A.
Without Blake, DJ was asked to be the pick man for Redick's dribble hand-off scheme, and because DJ can't shoot or get to the rim from the high elbow, it basically reduced what is generally a go-to set for the Clips to nothing. I can't go full A for DJ because there's still no offensive game outside of the paint---even his passing is suspect---and his post game looks moderately improved, but it's not a tool the Clippers can rely on comfortably. Still, DJ is an elite rebounder, some might say the premier rebounder in the NBA, and he is a feared rim protector.
Robert Flom: B+
DeAndre Jordan has mostly played at an All Star level this year, and I was very happy that he finally got recognized for his efforts. If Chris Paul is the mouth and heart of the Clippers’ defense, DJ is the backbone. While he isn’t perfect on that end, he’s a dominant rebounder and effective rim protector also capable of switching onto smaller players and defending them credibly. That’s a lot of responsibility, and, again, he has mostly lived up to it. On offense, his dives to the rim clear up space for the rest of the team, and he cleans up a lot of misses. He’s even upped his free throw percentage substantially, preventing overabundant use of hack-a-DJ. The issue with DJ has never been the skillset, but the consistency with which he uses it. Unfortunately, that hasn’t changed this season, and there have been a few too many games where he hasn’t shown up at all. That just can’t happen this far into his NBA career, and is the reason why he gets a B+ instead of an A.
Max Jeffrey: A
Coming off of a season during which he claimed All-NBA First Team and All-Defense First Team honors, as well as a summer during which he earned an Olympic gold medal for Team USA, DeAndre Jordan had some lofty expectations heading into this season. Such expectations weren’t particularly self-driven or team-driven but, rather, driven by the media and NBA fanbase at-large; these expectations were centered around the idea that this would be the season he would take a major leap offensively, or at least demand a greater offensive role. But what makes Jordan so great is that he knows and understands his vital role on this Clippers team. He firmly remains the anchor of the Clippers’ defense while playing to his additional strengths, all for the sake of winning. Jordan leads the team in offensive rebounds (3.5), defensive rebounds (10.2), total rebounds (13.8), and blocks (1.7) per game while shooting 69.5% from the field. And what conventional stats won’t tell you is what an excellent screener he is in helping shooters get open looks, what a dominant repellant he is in the paint for opposing offenses even when he isn’t rebounding or blocking shots, and what a vocal leader he has often been for this team. Jordan has had some rare defensive lapses, moments where he hasn’t appeared entirely engaged, but he also has yet to miss a game this season (the only starter to do so). And Jordan just made his first All-Star appearance this past weekend to the delight of Clippers fans everywhere. Jordan, the longest-tenured player in Clippers franchise history, is also its all-time leader in rebounds (6,472) and blocks (1,169)..and he’s still got plenty more basketball to play.
The trio of TLTJTP return to discuss their last remaining thoughts ahead of the trade deadline and whether the team can compete against the Warriors this week
Patrick Zajac returns to host the latest episode of The Lob, The Jam, The Podcast, along with Shapan Debnath and Robert Flom, as the guys discuss the most recent fallout from All-Star Weekend. Do changes need to be made to the dunk contest? How can players be more motivated to play defense in the All-Star Game? Then, the trio share the last thoughts on any potential trade before the deadline, and make some predictions on what big moves, if any, Doc Rivers might execute.