NBA Season Wrap Up: LA Clippers
We've already talked about the Denver Nuggets and up next is the Los Angeles Clippers.
Los Angeles Clippers:
The Clippers had their most successful season ever in 2012-13, winning 56 games and their first Pacific Division title before losing to Memphis in the first round. Their offense scored 101.1 points per game during the season, good for ninth best in the league, and their defense ranked fourth, allowing 94.6 points per game.
The Clippers are on an upward trajectory but all of that can change if Chris Paul, who is an unrestricted free agent, doesn't re-sign with Lob City. Blake Griffin is an electrifying player and led the team in scoring with 18 ppg, but he is still reliant on his point guard to create good shots for him. Griffin has slowly developed some post moves, but he is far from a reliable low post threat.
Having an elite point guard makes it easier for everyone. Blake and DeAndre Jordan don't need to create their own shots and wing players can pretty much spot up and wait for the ball. This strategy worked in the regular season, but as we saw against Memphis, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph had their way with the Clipper big guys in the playoffs.
On the offensive end, Griffin and Jordan do not shoot the ball particularly well from outside so the Memphis bigs could sag off them and protect the rim. And on defense, once Griffin suffered an ankle injury, they couldn't stop the Grizzlies low post attack.
The playoffs showed just how much the Clippers miss players like Kenyon Martin and Reggie Evans, who were on the team last year but played in the playoffs for other teams this time around. If Chris Paul comes back, they'll be a good team again. He'll get everyone their shots and they can sign some role players to replace any role players they lose. But Chris Paul can't muscle opposing big guys down low. There are plenty of experienced bigs on the market this offseason including Samuel Dalembert, Emeka Okefor, Zaza Pachulia, and many others. They need to add toughness and one of these guys would help with that.
They should also look to acquire a big guy who can stretch the floor and open up the middle of opposing defenses. Carl Landry is one name to keep an eye on that could fill that need.
Another big question that Clippers fans are asking is what is going to happen with Eric Bledsoe. He is a young, athletic, high energy point guard that many other teams will have an interest in. He will be a free agent after next year and the Clippers could get good value for Bledsoe rather than waiting and getting nothing. At this point, an exciting backup point guard is a luxury that the Clippers can't afford and don't need to with Jamal Crawford as the primary backup and bench scoring option.
Unrestricted free agents: Matt Barnes, Chauncey Billups, Ryan Hollins, Lamar Odom, Chris Paul, Ronny Turiaf