This is clearly a tad belated, what with it being January 7th and all, but with 2013 nigh upon us it’s as good a time as ever to sit down with the Clippers and hand out some good, old fashioned New Years resolutions.
Typically, a New Years resolution is something you pledge for yourself, obviously, but I’m going to go ahead and take matters into my own hands and donate a few to our Clipper friends. Secret Santa style, I suppose.
Let’s get started.
Blake Griffin & DeAndre Jordan
Yep, you guessed it. Free throws! Predictable, but still.
As of today, Griffin is shooting just over 62 percent from what would normally be called the “charity stripe”, while Jordan is even worse, shooting a dismal 42 percent. On the bright side, Griffin has actually improved a considerable amount this season, as he made just 52 percent of his foul shots in 2011-12.
Of course, there are other areas in which both Griffin and Jordan have improved this season, respectively.
Griffin has been a significantly better defender in his third season, and is actually making quick rotations and has become a serviceable help defender down in the post.
Jordan appears to have improved his offensive repertoire, though those skills are rarely necessary. His primary usefulness still comes from his athleticism on defense and his threat offensively as a high-flying finisher.
That said, it would be nice for Vinny del Negro to not have to worry about his two prized big men being on the floor in late-game, crunch time situations because they can’t consistently knock down free throws.
As we’ve seen in each of the last two games (wins over the Lakers and Warriors), when Chris Paul is asserting himself offensively, he’s nearly impossible to stop. We were reminded of this time and time again last season as Paul repeatedly took over games late and willed the Clippers to wins seemingly single-handedly.
This season, with the team’s tremendous depth and the large number of blowout wins, Paul’s late-game heroics haven’t been necessary too often.
However, it still does seem as though CP3 has a tendency to perhaps wait too long before putting his stamp on the game. In the Clips’ revenge blowout win over Golden State, Paul completely took over the game in the third period, repeatedly going around poor Stephen Curry with ease and finishing, essentially icing the game early.
So, perhaps a little more of that early offensive assertiveness is in the cards for CP3 in 2013.
Grant Hill & Chauncey Billups
To the elder statesmen of the team, who have played in a combined three games all season (all Billups), I bestow upon them the gift of health.
Whether or not this requires tapping into the fountain of youth, I have no idea, but the already-deep Clippers could benefit even more by having Hill and Billups suited up and on the floor, even if it’s in short bursts.
Some worry that more may not necessarily mean better for a Clippers rotation that has already built great chemistry, but Hill and Billups are smart enough players to know what works and what doesn’t. It’s hard to imagine either of them returning and immediately screwing things up.
The only real issue would appear to be whose minutes they’ll be cutting into. Willie Green didn’t see the floor in any of the games in which Billups played, so there’s Chauncey’s avenue to the floor.
Hill could help save the legs of some of the other veteran swing men as the season wears on, like Lamar Odom, Matt Barnes, Jamal Crawford and Caron Butler.
Odom has already transformed himself into something close to the player he was when he won the Sixth Man of the Year award in 2011 with the Lakers in a relatively short amount of time after coming into the season overweight and out-of-shape.
Remember those flashy things from “Men in Black” that erase your memory? To ensure that Odom continues on the right path of improving his condition, I’m going to use a flashy thing to erase from his brain the awareness of the existence of candy.
There ya go. You’re welcome, America.
Matt Barnes, at the age of 32 and in his 10th NBA season, is having a career year.
He’s averaging an all-time best 10.8 points per game and is shooting 34.4 percent from three-point range. His signing was something of an afterthought during the offseason, but he’s quickly become one of the key cogs to the league’s best bench unit.
So, for Barnes, here’s to a year of consistency and keeping up the good work.
About the Author
Written by Taylor Smith
Taylor Smith is a writer for the Los Angeles Clippers.