Remember when Steve Ballmer took center court, telling everybody how hardcore the Clippers will be. Never mind the fact that he loves Larry (referring to the Larry O'Brien trophy), which a fan geniusly connected to "LOB City", saying it stands for "Larry O'Brien City. Or how about seeing all of those commercials in the middle of the games, talking about how the Clippers will be relentless.
Yet, as fans, we have sat through five disappointing matches to start the year, culminating in a drubbing at the hands of the Warriors, who they knocked out in seven games during last years playoffs. False advertisement to a T, as the Clippers have the pieces, along with an easy first four games, just need to harness everything in and start fixing the fixable issues.
First off, the biggest issue is rebounding. The Clippers are dead last when it comes to crashing the glass, with 33.8 per night. To put that into perspective, the 29th ranked side, grabs 37.8 per night. A difference of four rebounds per evening. They are in the middle of the pack when it comes to keeping opponents off the glass, however, ranking in at 14th, with 43 given up per game. A difference of -9.2, which is bad enough to be the second worst in the entire association, ahead of the tanking Philadelphia 76ers.
DeAndre Jordan leads the Clippers in that lowly category, with 10 a game, good enough to ranked 13th among qualifying players. A drop off of 3.6 from last year, where he lead the entire league. The issue, however, ranks with the team as a whole. Griffin is only grabbing 6.4 a game, which will not cut it. For some comparison, Spencer Hawes, in about half the time, is grabbing 4.2 a night, and Hawes hasn't ever been known for his rebounding prowess.
Matt Barnes chipping in with 1.8 won't cut it either, that's down from 4.6 last year, and as the starting small forward, Matt needs to ensure that he tracks back to help Jordan grab some rebounds, along with Blake playing with, even an iota of the intensity he had in years past, would make a day and night difference towards fixing the Clippers issues on the board.
Shooting has also been a major issue for the Clippers, namely from JJ Redick. A reputation of a sharpshooter, throughout his career, Redick has been the epitome of atrocious on this young season, hitting 28.9% from the field and 23.3% from three. This is a 43.0/38.8 shooter for his career, with an unimagineable drop off. A good amount of those looks, as well, have been wide open passes from Paul.
Redick isn't the only culprit, as Barnes is chipping in with 37.5/26.3, Hawes with 37.9/27.3 and Farmar is just hovering around the 40s for each respective category. The Clippers, as a team, are right in the middle of the pack, ranking 16th at field goal percentage and 15th from behind the arc. Last year, they were third from the field, though, 22nd from behind the arc. A change that needs to be fixed.
The biggest issue, however, has to be the disappointing play from Griffin and Paul. Thought to be the best, arguably, at their respective positions, they haven't shown anything near that. Well, at least Griffin hasn't as Paul is still, somehow, putting up some mind boggling averages.
Paul has 52 assists to only 5 turnovers on this young season. That's averaging 10.4 assists and one giveaway per game. Toss in 15 steals as well, and it just is amazing how well Paul, not only, takes care of the ball, but gives his team extra possessions. The first triple double of the year, and lone one to this point, is also quite impressive.
Yet, the same issue remains with Paul being too passive at times, and needed to tune it up when it comes to aggression. When the offense stagnates, as it has, consistently on the year, Paul needs to take some shots, get some points to keep the Clippers in the lead, if not just in the game. He did so, during a short spurt during the blow-out in Golden State, but it was way too little, way too late.
Griffin, however, has more vices. Yes, he has improved his jumper, and is hitting shots at a more consistent basis, but it has taken from everything he is known for and turned him into David West. For his career, Blake has taken 40.4% of his field goal attempts within three feet and 22.1% from 16 feet to the arc. This year, he's taking 22.7% from within three feet and taken 40.2% from 16 feet and beyond.
Hitting a solid 41% from that range, for a big man, doesn't seem bad, but shying away from 81.8% is just ridicilous. Taking yourself further away from the basket, means less fouls on the opposition, less opportunities for an easy dunk or put-back, less second chance rebounds.
You just can't do that, as a face of the "relentless" and "hardcore" chants your franchise has given to its numerous fans, that have stuck through the dark ages, and are still here. Even the bandwagon fans don't deserve play, soft enough to be compared with 3-Ply tissue.
The defensive side of the ball, has been just as bad for Blake, looking like a broom stick out there. Grabbing only 4 defensive boards a night, and allowing his counterpart to play above their level is disheartening. Allowing Draymond Green to obliterate you should never occur. Letting Trevor Booker have a great bench game? Should not occur. All there is left to say is, pick it up Blake.
One brightside, for this horrible start, has been Jamal Crawford, however. Putting up 20.3 points, 3.5 assists, 1.8 steals to only 1.8 giveaways is quite impressive in 28 minutes a night. The supersub may soon be forced to start if the Clippers slump continues. Reggie Bullock also needs more playing time.