They say that you can?t go home again.? But after six tumultuous though ascending seasons on the Charlotte/New Orleans Hornets and four magical years on the Golden State Warriors, elite point guard Baron Davis finally got his wish and returned to his native Los Angeles where he was born and had starred at UCLA in the late 1990s.
But all is not well as Davis? trade wishes resulted in his not landing on the lauded LA Lakers, but ending up on their co-residents, the long-suffering LA Clippers.? Much can be said about the Clippers? player-personnel moves over the years, but none were as resounding as the off-season losses of their two best offensive players ? Elton Brand and Corey Maggette.? It?s not often you lose your two best weapons and replace them with equal value.? Alas, the Clippers were able to lure Davis from the upstate division rival Warriors, seemingly at least somewhat compensating for Maggette, if not Brand.
Thus far, the Clippers have predictably started the season with a thud, winning only one (a surprising home victory against Dallas) of their first nine, although in fairness, it is still too early to judge the effectiveness of a Davis-led offense, which also added center-forward Marcus Camby to the fold.? However, to date, Davis is averaging 16.3 points-per-game, which is not far off his career average, but certainly notably down from his recent seasons as a Warrior.
In fact, the Clippers? most recent test was against those same Warriors, who, with Maggette in tow, visited Staples Center for a November 15 matin?e.? Even though the Clippers fought to stay close through most of the game, in the end, the Warriors, behind the shooting power of undrafted rookie Anthony Morrow?s 37 points, won easily 121-103.? Of note, Davis was the Clippers? scoring leader with 25 points.
Davis, soft-spoken, intelligent, and articulate, is not miffed by his new team?s beginning struggles.? ?Everyone is this locker room wants to win,? he said. ?We just have to figure out how to win together.? A lot of times, when you are in a situation like this, everyone wants to take it upon themselves to be the guy that is responsible for that next victory.? We all have to use each other?s talents and just play with each other and work well together.? We?re coming along; it?s just that we?re doing it in spurts.? We have to have a sustained effort.?
With Davis as the point guard, he realizes that the burden is on him to lead the team.? ?I think tempo is everything for us,? Davis said.? ?Once we are able to find that style, meaning pace, we?re going to be a better team.? We?re still looking for it: that rhythm out there ? that flow.? We?re showing some flashes of being a highly competitive team. Everybody has to figure out their roles within the system.?
Any Clippers' observer notes that the team often plays from behind, a reality not lost on Davis. ?We have to get off to better starts, stop digging ourselves into holes, and basically play with confidence.? I think a lot of times, we?re out there playing with uncertainty.? You can?t be effective that way.? We just have to continue to do a better effort as a team to try and play as a whole.? I think chemistry is important, and right now, that?s something that we really have to concentrate and work hard on.?
So does Davis have the patience to let the Clippers grow with him?? ?I am pretty patient. I?ve learned from my years in the league to be very patient," he said. ?And, I understand that this season is a long season.? You?ve got to be able to develop a chemistry, and that?s what basketball is all about.
?Growing up the way I grew up,? he continued, ?you have to be patient and let things come to you.? You?ve just got to know that there are always better days to come, especially when you?ve put in the hard work that we?re putting in.? Everybody is trying their hardest to accelerate that curve.? We?re going to get there ? it?s just a matter of time.?
With his first Warrior matchup behind him, and not displaying any regrets, Davis had nothing but encouraging words for his old team,? ?I think, they are starting to settle in and figure out who they are as a team as well ? the young guys are stepping up,? he said.
So does Davis regret the movie to LA?? With less than 10% of the season in the bank, the jury is still out.? However, Davis exuded optimism when summarizing his reasons for returning.? ?I think [I had an] opportunity to be a role model in the community and try and bring a winning attitude to the Clipper organization,? he said.? And with that, he went out into the streets of his Los Angeles for a familiar Saturday afternoon.