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2014 First Round Picks (Which Teams Own The Picks?)

While RealGM has an excellent database of the draft picks that have been traded between teams, I wanted to put together a summary more focused on the upcoming draft. For the sake of clarity, this version will only deal with the first round.

Atlanta Hawks- Have the right to swap their own pick with Brooklyn’s. At this point, it appears Atlanta will just keep their own and move on.

Boston Celtics- Have their own first and the less favorable of Atlanta and Brooklyn, likely Brooklyn right now. They have a future first from the Sixers as well, but it only goes this year if Philadelphia makes the playoffs. We all know that will not happen.

Brooklyn Nets- No matter what, they lose their pick without getting one in return.

Charlotte Bobcats- Their own first goes to Chicago as long as the Bobcats stay remotely on track (top-10 protected) but they pick up Portland’s unless the Blazers effectively lose out. The lingering question is Detroit- if the pick is 1-8, the Pistons keep it but if it’s 9th or worse it goes to Charlotte. My gut feeling is that once Detroit knows they will not make the playoffs we will see a push to the bottom reminiscent of the 2012 Warriors.

Chicago Bulls- Have their own pick and Charlotte’s unless the Bobcats collapse. The Sacramento pick they acquired in the Luol Deng trade is top-12 protected so it will not come this year.

Cleveland Cavaliers- Have their own pick free and clear and no other first rounders.

Dallas Mavericks- One of the more interesting situations in the league. By having top-20 protection on their pick (it goes to Oklahoma City if it falls 21-30 this year), the Mavs could lose their pick if they make the playoffs. Right now, the bottom seeds in the West look to be about even with the 3-4 spots in the East, so it could go either way.

Denver Nuggets- They keep the better of their pick and New York’s, sending the worse one to Orlando.

Detroit Pistons- Keep their pick if it is eighth or better, otherwise it goes to Charlotte. I fully expect them to understand the incentives and lose enough to retain it.

Golden State Warriors- Their first goes to Utah no matter what.

Houston Rockets- Have their own pick free and clear and no other first rounders.

Indiana Pacers- Their pick is going to Phoenix as a part of the Luis Scola trade from last summer.

Los Angeles Clippers- Have their own pick free and clear and no other first rounders.

Los Angeles Lakers- Have their own pick free and clear and no other first rounders.

Memphis Grizzlies- Have their own pick free and clear and no other first rounders.

Miami Heat- Have their own pick free and clear and no other first rounders.

Milwaukee Bucks- Have their own pick free and clear and no other first rounders.

Minnesota Timberwolves- The pick is top-13 protected, meaning they have to make the postseason or have the best record of any non-playoff team to send it to Phoenix. At this point, it looks like the pick will be No. 13 and thus the Wolves will keep it.

New Orleans Pelicans- Their pick goes to Philadelphia unless it lands in the top-five. It will be hard for the Pelicans to jump enough of the teams “ahead” of them, but they still have a shot of jumping them in the lottery itself.

New York Knicks- They lose their pick no matter what, though the destination could change.

Oklahoma City Thunder- They have their own pick and get Dallas’ first if it ends up between 21 and 30, certainly a possibility.

Orlando Magic- Retain their own pick and get the less favorable of Denver and New York’s selections. This could end up swinging on whether the Knicks can make the playoffs- if they do, the pick falls a few spots to No. 15.

Philadelphia 76ers- They keep their own pick as long as they miss the playoffs (just a formality at this point) and pick up one from New Orleans as long as it falls outside the top five.

Phoenix Suns- They have their own pick and Indiana’s on lock and appear likely to pick up Washington’s since the Wizards should make the playoffs. Minnesota’s pick has top-13 protection, so I expect the Suns to only end up with three this year.

Portland Trail Blazers- Their pick is going to Charlotte unless the Blazers have a truly epic collapse.

Sacramento Kings- Their pick has top-12 protection, so the Kings look like they will keep it even if they rattle off some late-season wins.

San Antonio Spurs- Have their own pick free and clear and no other first rounders.

Toronto Raptors- Have their own pick free and clear and no other first rounders.

Utah Jazz- They have both their own pick and Golden State’s.

Washington Wizards- They will send their pick to Phoenix barring a major letdown.

How Clippers Can Enter Defensive Elite

Two weeks before the start of the lockout-shortened 2011-2012 NBA season, Chris Paul was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers and he had the heavy burden of reversing the fortunes of a franchise that had only advanced out of the first round of the playoffs on time since 1976. 

The duo of Paul and young superstar Blake Griffin led the Clippers to the 4th best offensive efficiency in the 11-12 season and a first round victory over the Memphis Grizzlies in seven games. However, the more experienced San Antonio Spurs exposed the Clippers in Round 2, but there was ample reason to be hopeful about the future of the Clippers' franchise.

The Clippers lived up to expectations during the 12-13 season. While they only improved their playoff seeding by one spot (from 5th to 4th), they improved their winning percentage by 7.7 percent (from 60.6 percent to 68.3 percent) and they significantly increased their point differential (from positive 2.6 to positive 6.5). However, they ultimately fell short in the postseason, losing to an improved Grizzlies team in six games in the first round.

The Clippers' offense has been effective over the past two years mainly because of the mastery of Paul and the improvement of Griffin. Conversely, Los Angeles has been less successful on the defensive end, where the team’s shortcomings are often blamed on the inexperienced frontcourt duo of Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. The Clippers' defensive issues can be attributed to that pairing and here we'll examine what strategy the front office should pursue to remedy those deficiencies.

In 11-12, the Clippers finished 18th in defensive efficiency, allowing 105.7 points per 100 possessions (DEFF). Most of that was due to a lack of frontcourt depth, however, as the Clippers posted a 101.2 DEFF in 1,555 minutes of lineups involving Griffin and Jordan. The Spurs exposed the Griffin-Jordan duo in the 2nd round of the playoffs by scoring a ridiculous 121.6 points per 100 possessions in 90 minutes against lineups including Griffin and Jordan. The tandem seemed to take a step back on the defensive end in 12-13. In 1,810 minutes, lineups including Griffin and Jordan posted a 104.2 DEFF (down three points per 100 possessions from the year before), which would place them at about 20th in the league.

In both of the Clippers’ playoff exits in the last two seasons, their opponent outperformed their offensive efficiency from the regular season. While the Clippers improved their defensive efficiency dramatically from 11-12 to 12-13, two problems persisted from one season to the next. The first is three-point defense. The Clippers were 27th (36.5 percent) and 26th (37.3 percent) in the league in opposing 3-pt percentage in 2011-12 and 2012-13, respectively. Their inability to defend the 3-point ball revealed itself against the Spurs, when San Antonio shot a remarkable 43.7 percent from downtown during the 4-game sweep. Let’s dive into the stats to figure out why the Clippers struggle to defend from downtown.

The Clippers' three-point defense was especially porous when Griffin and Jordan were on the court at the same time. In 12-13, opponents shot 41.8 percent from beyond the arc against lineups including Griffin and Jordan. For comparison’s sake, the Warriors led the league in team 3PT% for the season with a rate of 40.3 percent. Lineups with Griffin and Jordan had problems guarding the perimeter in part because of how the two big men defended the pick and roll. Often times, the defender (either Griffin or Jordan) guarding the screener in the pick and roll would leave the roll man and jump out to the perimeter to corral the ball handler. Meanwhile, the other big man would often overextend himself to help on the roll man, which would expose the paint. The other defenders would react by sinking in to protect the paint, which meant straying a little too far from the 3-point line. This enabled opponents to make a high percentage of their 3-point attempts. Zach Lowe expertly detailed this trend at Grantland.

Interestingly, in lineups with Griffin that were absent of Jordan, the Clippers dramatically improved their 3-point defense as the opposing 3-pt percentage dropped from 41.8 percent to 36.7 percent. However, while the Clippers may have improved their 3-point defense without Jordan, they struggled in other areas such as defensive rebounding and limiting their fouls. 

2012-13

Lineup

MINS

DEFF

DRB%

OPP 3PT%

OPP FTA Rate

Griffin & Jordan

1,810

106.9

75.2%

41.8%

0.236

Griffin w/o Jordan

798

107.5

73.0%

36.7%

0.425

 (*** Table info from NBAwowy.com)

The 0.252 opposing free throw attempt rate (OPP FTA) posted by lineups with Griffin and Jordan would rank about 8th in the league. On the contrary, lineups with Griffin but without Jordan had an abysmal 0.425 OPP FTA, which would be by far the worst in the league, as the Raptors were last in the league in OPP FTA in 12-13 with an OPP FTA of 0.247. The dramatic increase in fouls indicates the Clippers lack of rim protection when Jordan is on the bench. 

So far, we’ve learned that lineups with Griffin and Jordan didn’t defend the 3-point shot well in 12-13 and were pretty solid in terms of rebounding and avoiding fouling. On the contrary, the Clippers did a better job of defending from behind the arc without Jordan but they had a hard time rebounding and avoiding fouling when Jordan left the game. Let’s compare the numbers from the 12-13 table above with the numbers from this year. 

2013-14

Lineup

MINS

DEFF

DRB%

OPP FG%

OPP 3PT%

OPP FTA Rate

Griffin & Jordan

1,294

103.1

74.9%

44.7%

35.3%

0.252

Griffin w/o Jordan

300

109.2

74.3%

46.5%

33.1%

0.461

( *** Table info from NBAwowy.com) 

Lineups with Griffin and Jordan have improved their defensive efficiency thus far in the 13-14 season, in large part, because of their improvement defending the 3PT shot. Allowing the opposition to shoot 35.3 percent is just about a league average rate, which is a dramatic improvement over last season, where Griffin-Jordan lineups allowed their opponent to shoot 41.8 percent from downtown. This improvement can be attributed to Doc Rivers’ efforts to convince Jordan not to jump out on the perimeter nearly as much as he did in the past. While Jordan has improved his defensive positioning, he is still prone to overextending himself and compromising the Clippers defense. When Jordan successfully commits to remaining in the paint, the Clippers wing defenders can remain attached to perimeter shooters, thereby diminishing their ability to accurately shoot 3-pointers.

The main problem on defense that has carried over from last season is the way in which the Clippers defense collapses when Jordan leaves the game. The 109.2 DEFF without Jordan would rank in the bottom-three of the league. The defensive struggles are in large part due to the fact that these lineups still foul at an absurd rate. The Clippers began this season with BJ Mullens and Ryan Hollins as their primary backup big men, both of whom are guilty of excessive fouling. Mullens is currently 18th in the league in personal fouls per 36 minutes and Hollins is 20th. Mullens has recently seen his playing time decrease, as the Clippers have preferred to use either Barnes or Dudley at the 4-spot when Griffin is on the bench. Regardless, it is pretty clear that the Clippers are in dire need of a third big man who can provide some rim protection when Jordan heads to the bench.

Doc Rivers has helped the Griffin-Jordan frontcourt improve defensively, mainly by encouraging Jordan to avoid drifting too far from the paint. The Clippers' major problems on defense this season have occurred when Jordan is on the bench. As the trade deadline approaches, the Clippers should consider shopping for a backup big man who can play defense. Anderson Varejao, Brandon Bass, Jason Thompson, and Jordan Hill are just a few examples of players who might be available, as they are veteran big men on teams that are currently out of the playoff hunt. Acquiring a capable third big man will go a long away in improving the Clippers chances of contending in the Western Conference.

The Real Blake Show

There are two bulls standing on a hill overlooking a pasture full of cows. The younger bull, eager, but lacking experience, says to the old bull “I’m going to run down there and f*** myself a cow.” The old bull, who has spent season after season in the pasture, turns to the younger bull and chuckles, “I’m going to walk down and f*** all of them.”

-- An old wives' tale

The night after losing Chris Paul to a separated shoulder, the Los Angeles Clippers were run off the court at the San Antonio Spurs. In the two weeks since, they have managed to stabilize themselves, compiling a 6-3 record without their All-NBA point guard. With seven games against the East and four against the West before the All-Star Break, the Clippers may not lose any ground in the standings before Paul returns in February. Most of the credit should go to Blake Griffin.

With Paul out, Blake has been given the chance to run the team. He is getting more touches and more shots than ever before and he is responding. In the last 10 games, Blake is averaging 25 points, eight rebounds and five assists on 52 percent shooting. His season averages, in contrast, are 23 points, 10 rebounds and 3.5 assists on 52 percent shooting. Chris Paul wasn’t making Blake better; he was making him worse. CP3 is a pair of training wheels Blake no longer needs.

What makes Paul great is his ability to create easy shots for his teammates, but there’s no player in the NBA who has an easier time creating shots than Blake Griffin. Blake is a 6’10 250 ball of muscle who is one of the best leapers and most explosive athletes in the history of the sport. And while everyone focuses on his athleticism, it’s his skill and feel for the game that makes him an elite player. If Blake couldn’t pass or dribble, he would be Thomas Robinson.

After missing his rookie season with a knee injury, Blake wasted no time in the NBA. He has never missed an All-Star Game - he was an All-Star at 21, 22 and 23. As a rookie, he averaged 22.5 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists on 51 percent shooting. He has been criticized for stagnating as a player, but he came in at such a high level, there was much less room for him to grow. The others who were All-Stars from 21-23: LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Dwight Howard.

When Blake gets the ball at 18-20 feet, there is very little the defense can do to stop him. He is way too fast, way too big and way too good of a ball-handler. He can cross people up, he can take the ball between the legs and he can get to the rim in 1-2 steps. If he gets by his man, he has the vision to beat the help defenders with the pass. For the most part, defenders are conceding everything and hoping for the miss. The strategy against Blake has always been “hope he misses.”

What has changed this year is that he’s not missing as often. For the jumper of a big man, his free-throw shooting percentage is the canary in the coal mine. A free-throw is isolated shooting motion in its purest form; it’s just bend the knees, flick the wrists and get the point. What a power forward or center does on the line lets you know what he will do in the pick-and-pop with an NBA PG who knows what he is doing. Blake is shooting 71.5 percent from the line this season.

That is a huge step up from 61 percent, 52 percent and 66 percent in his first three seasons. He still has aways to go, but hack-a-Blake is no longer an option. Most importantly, you can see the upward trajectory. With or without Paul, the key to any Clippers game is whether Blake makes his first 2-3 jumpers. If that shot is going in, it is going to be a long night for the opponent. When Blake shoots 55 percent or higher, the Clippers have a 13-4 record, including wins over the Spurs and Thunder.

Blake’s points lead to points for everyone else. Not only does he demand so much attention in the paint that he creates perimeter shots for his teammates, he can read the floor and get them open shots when he has the ball in his hands. In January, he is averaging 4.7 assists on 2.7 turnovers. That’s an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.74. At 24, Boris Diaw averaged 4.8 assists on 2.1 turnovers. Blake is Diaw in a big market with a 40’ vertical and a few good TV commercials.

In the court of public opinion, Blake has been a victim of timing. After his rookie season, the Clippers tried to accelerate their development when they traded Eric Gordon and Al-Farouq Aminu for Paul. On a conventional timeframe, with Blake, Eric Bledsoe and DeAndre Jordan as their three best players, the Clippers would have made their first playoff appearance last season. Instead of stagnating on a first-round loser, Blake would have been the captain of a rising team.

By himself, Paul can win a lot of regular season games, but he can’t lead a team deep into the playoffs. With New Orleans, his teams won 56, 49, 37 and 46 games. They lost in the first round twice and lost a second round Game 7 to San Antonio. In two seasons with the Clippers, “Lob City” was swept in the second round and lost in the first. This is what happens when The Point God is your best player. If Dwight Howard was judged by Paul’s standards, he would be a HOF'er already.

For Blake, the next two seasons are about cleaning up minor things. He needs to get the J even better and he needs to play better positional defense. He only has a 6’11 wingspan, so he will never be a great shot-blocker, but he only needs to be so good at protecting the rim with DeAndre Jordan behind him. Blake and DeAndre are still learning to play together. Doc Rivers had an All-Star PG (Rajon Rondo) with the Boston Celtics; he came to Los Angeles for the frontcourt.

If Paul isn’t ready on Blake’s timetable, he will have to be replaced. The good news is there’s no shortage of good PG’s in the NBA. Every year, there are 4-5 good ones in the draft. There are a lot of old guys in the league who resent Blake for dunking on them and being in a lot of commercials. Soon enough, the NBA will be full of young guys who watched Blake in those commercials and want to dunk on him. When he becomes the old bull, it’s going to be a serious problem.

Lamar Odom's Complicated Legacy

If this is it, Lamar Odom leaves behind a complicated legacy in the sport. However, the player he could have been shouldn’t detract from the incredible player that he was.

Top-60 Players In NBA Today (Considering Everything)

The goal here is look at overall long-term value of players by considering age, contract, positional scarcity and of course overall quality, without factors like a player’s connection with a franchise or fit within a specific system.

2013-14 NBA Season Preview

While the Western Conference has six teams (Clippers, Thunder, Rockets, Grizzlies, Warriors) in its first tier, the Eastern Conference is a tier of one (Heat) with the Bulls, Pacers and Nets vying for the second tier.

The NBA's Mediocrity Treadmill Since 84-85

The treadmill is somehow both more and less common than some might think. While teams tend to fall within the 30-49 win range, as would be expected in such a competitive league, the dreaded never-ending stream of late lottery picks is uncommon.

2013 NBA Mock Draft (Final Edition)

Draft day has finally arrived and while everyone pines for the 2014 class already, this one has the chance to be sneaky good in the 'many quality starters' variety.

2013 NBA Mock Draft (Wednesday/Quality Of Opp. Edition)

In this mock, we include the PER of each player based on the quality of opponent. Even statistics in this context can only go so far, but helps move beyond the possibility of inflation against competition that isn't even close to being NBA caliber.

Choosing Destinations For The 2013 Free Agency Class

The 2013 free agency class won't stop everything the way 2010 did and 2014 will, but it is strong and deep with many different possible outcomes. Here is what the top-30 players 'should' do.

2013 NBA Mock Draft (Draft Week Edition)

Entering draft week in a draft universally labeled as weak preceding the best draft of the decade, few people are talking themselves into falling in love with any specific player as fervently as usual.

2013 NBA Draft Board

Victor Oladipo, Steven Adams, Rudy Gobert, Otto Porter and Alex Len join Nerlens Noel at the top of our draft board.

The Bottom Line On Chris Paul's Free Agency

Whether Chris Paul thinks Donald Sterling threw him under the bus isn’t the point. If he thinks Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are a championship-caliber frontline, he’ll get over it.

The Eliminated (First Round Teams)

The Lakers, Clippers, Nets, Rockets, Nuggets, Hawks, Celtics and Bucks were the first eight teams eliminated from the playoffs and in this edition, we look at their main questions heading into the offseason.

Streaking Clippers Know They’re An Unfinished Product

In a lot of ways, the Clippers haven’t even revealed their true identity. They will always go as far as Chris Paul can lead them, but the depth of their roster has yet to take form.

The Reality Of Point Guard Defense

Having a great defensive help defender in the post such as Dwight Howard is helpful, but help is not the same as prevent. Once a point guard gets beat, the team is at a numerical disadvantage, rotating to take away the immediate threat of a basket at the cost of conceding a later one.

2013 Amnesty Primer

As we move forward with “Amnesty 2.0,” we will see the fascinating possibilities that the provision brings even as the number of teams and players left dwindles with time.

The Eric Bledsoe Countdown

No player in the NBA has made a bigger leap this season than Eric Bledsoe, the Clippers third-year guard who has been dubbed “Mini-LeBron.” Bledsoe is being under-used currently and could be the NBA's next franchise changing player to become available via trade.

Jamal Crawford's Return

The Clippers needed a guy that could provide them instant firepower without disrupting their talented core. Crawford was looking for a winning team that would let him contribute without striping him of his ability. It was a perfect marriage and both sides are benefiting.

Pacific Division Preview

While the Lakers and Clippers have title aspirations, the Warriors, Kings and Suns have many issues to resolve before they join their Los Angeles rivals in relevance.

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