July 22, 2016, 10:00 am
For a team that was one game away from the NBA Finals the previous season, the Clippers took a step back and ended their season on a disappointing note. Although they managed to finish the regular season with the fourth seed in the West, finishing with a record of 53-29, it could not help them overcome the injuries that would plague them in the playoffs. Hoop Ball’s Post-Mortem series takes a look at what happened in Lob City.
The Clippers had the story of the summer with the DeAndre Jordan free agency saga. After agreeing to sign with the Dallas Mavericks, Jordan had a change of heart and decided he would rather stay with the Clippers where there would be less pressure on him as the third option. So on July 8th, the day before free agents can officially sign on the 9th, Doc Rivers and a handful of players stayed over at Jordan’s house locking all doors and windows so that no one could enter and change his mind. The Mavericks organization was livid over this decision but this was a huge re-signing for the Clippers as they could keep their core intact and continue to be contenders.
One of the biggest issues that the Clippers had to address during the offseason was their lack of depth on the bench that cost them the chance at the NBA Finals. Rivers decided to take a chance on Mr. “Born Ready” Lance Stephenson in hopes of him playing the same way he did on the Pacers. They also managed to sign veteran forward Paul Pierce who has a close connection with Rivers in his Boston days. Some other additions included Wesley Johnson, Pablo Prigioni, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Cole Aldrich. With these additions to the bench the Clippers seemed to have upgraded.
Everything seemed to be cruising along until Blake Griffin decided to miss half the season by punching friend and team employee Matias Testi, which led to him breaking his hand. During this time the team also realized that Stephenson was not the best fit and traded him for Jeff Green. Although not a polarizing trade, it was a smart move for chemistry purposes and Green is the better player. Chris Paul carried the team into the playoffs where they would lose in the first round to the Portland Trail Blazers. Up 2-1 in the series, Paul left game four with a broken right hand and Griffin aggravated his quad injury, leaving the Clippers with no chance of winning the series.
It’s clear that changes need to be made in order for them to take the next step forward. Griffin has been rumoured to be on the trading block but many teams are worried about his quad injury. The Clippers have officially started off this offseason by signing Marreese Speights and Brandon Bass, both will provide great depth to the frontcourt. Raymond Felton, who played well last season, has also agreed to sign for the veteran minimum. Based on the signings and their current players, it is clear that the Clippers are all in for the 2017 season and are looking to win it all NOW.
Doc Rivers has always been viewed as one of the top coaches in the NBA, as well as one of the most vocal on the court. He has always had a dominant regular season record, leading his team to nine straight playoff appearances. However, after winning the NBA Championship in 2007-08 season with the Celtics’ “Big Three”, Rivers has yet to win another title. There have been questions about his rotations and strategy, being too reliant on his superstars to win him the game. Some critics are now questioning if he is an overrated coach.
Rivers is also the team’s President of Basketball Operations but has yet to make any promising moves that would take the team over the top. Rivers would at times have five bench players on the floor at the same time, leading to the opposing team taking advantage growing their lead or gaining ground. He would also have his worst defenders on their top offensive players strictly based on position of play, not wanting to switch. No one is saying that he can’t coach or that he is a terrible coach, it just feels like he hasn’t understood the simple things.
Despite his questionable decisions, Rivers has always had the respect of his players. This is no longer the same coach as we saw in Boston and he has to realize that as well. This is now a hostile win now situation as his players are getting up there in age. Doc must find a way to maximize his starters’ production without burning them out in the playoffs. They can cover up the Lakers banners all they want, but as long as they can’t win a title, the Clippers will always be Los Angeles’ second team.
ADP: 8/6 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 7/7 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 5/6 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 74
Chris Paul was a man on a mission in the 2015-16 season showing why he is a top three point guard in this league. After making an appearance in the conference finals for the first time in his career, Paul built off of that momentum coming into the season with or without Griffin. It was clear that the Clippers go as Paul goes, averaging 19.5 points per game, 4.2 rebounds per game, 10 assists per game and 2.1 steals per game. Every play ran through the floor general and this led to the 2.6 turnovers per game that he averaged. Considering he averaged 10 assists per game, that is a pretty good tradeoff if you ask me.
Everything seemed to be going as planned entering the first round of the playoffs… until game four. Paul broke his hand during a play and was forced to miss the rest of the playoffs where they eventually were eliminated in the first round. After working so hard during the regular season, it ended in disappointment and suffering. He has now undergone successful surgery on his right hand and would be out of commission for 4-6 weeks.
Paul isn’t getting any younger and this injury will certainly not help that. He will be sitting out of the Olympics and will have plenty of time to get himself ready for the 2016-17 season. There have been rumours of big changes and Paul eventually leaving the team is something that wouldn’t surprise anyone considering he wants to win now. As long as he is the starting point guard for the Clippers, he will continue to put up first round numbers. The best passing point guard in the NBA should be a first-round pick in fantasy drafts next season.
ADP: 14/18 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 190/192 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 36/45 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 35
Blake Blake Blake, what to do with you? After having an incredible postseason run the high-flyer came into the 2015-16 hoping to build off of that momentum but was shut down by injuries. Griffin tore his quad during and as he nearly recovered, he decided to miss half the season by punching friend and team employee Matias Testi, breaking his hand. He was able to play a grand total of only 35 games in the regular season and still made playoffs thanks to the heroics of Paul.
When he was able to play, he put up solid numbers averaging 21.4 points per game, 8.4 rebounds per game and 4.9 assists per game. His free throw percentage has also been consistent the last couple of years, hitting 73 percent from the line. Griffin has developed a mid-range jumper that has been a reliable part of his offence. He is the number one option on offence and can easily give you near triple-doubles each night when he is actually healthy and playing the game.
There have been multiple rumours of Griffin being on the trading block, linked mostly to the Boston Celtics. His torn quad is a huge concern to most executives in the league, which is why no trade talks have really picked up. He will likely be opting out of his contract after next season and will be looking for the max deal. With that being said, Blake will try his best to show the league his quad injury is a thing of the past. Having the offseason to rehab will help him play at his full potential during this contract year and he should be an early-round fantasy draft pick if you’re willing to risk it.
ADP: 39/31 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 49/69 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 70/71 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 77
After having one of the most controversial free agency signings since LeBron James, DeAndre Jordan went back to doing what Jordan does best, rebound and block shots. He averaged 12.7 points per game while racking up a grand 13.8 rebounds per game and blocking 2.3 shots per game. The Clippers promised him more touches on offence but that didn’t really show with only a slight increase in points to 12.7 points per game. Given his abilities and what he can do, he does it at an elite level.
Jordan has the ability to be the best center in the NBA but has to figure out a way to contribute more in the paint besides dunking. His insane field goal percentage of 70 percent led the league because all his shots were dunks. His stellar field goal percentage is sometimes overshadowed by the fact that he can’t hit free throws. He was only able to hit 43 percent from the line and continue to be a liability once teams start implementing the hack-a-shack technique. The NBA has recently changed the rule about intentionally fouling so that may help Jordan slightly. If he can develop a post-move and hit free throws, look out world.
This summer Jordan will be headed to the 2016 Summer Olympics and will represent Team USA. This should help him gain more experience playing with superstars and veterans on the same team. If you’re willing to punt free throws, he will be an extremely valuable fantasy asset.
ADP: 72/84 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 75/60 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 91/69 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 75
Redick is the Clippers marksman and 3-point specialist. He led the team in 3-pointers made with 200 while hitting 48 percent of his shots from behind the ark, talk about sniper. He is more of an efficient 3-point specialist for fantasy leagues, being able to hit 88 percent of his free throws as well. As it currently stands, Redick is still the starting shooting guard for the Clippers and should still hold his mid-round value for next season. Besides his back issues that could appear from time-to-time, he should be ready for the start of the next season.
ADP: N/A /N/A (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 144/118 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 185/159 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 80
Johnson has agreed to a three-year, $18 million deal to re-sign with the Clippers. Johnson is just insurance for the bench and he averaged 6.9 points per game and 3.1 rebounds per game last season while coming off the bench for most of the season. In his last two seasons in the league, his field goal percentage and 3-point percentage has dropped making it even less appealing to draft him. It’s unlikely that Johnson will make an impact in most fantasy leagues but could be a sneaky add throughout the season. Look for him to be used more in DFS.
ADP: 114/136 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 144/138 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 174/169 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 80
Green was acquired at the trade deadline by the Clippers and was an upgrade over Stephenson. Throughout the season he was able to average a respectable 11.7 points per game, 4.2 rebounds per game and 1.7 assists per game while shooting 43 percent from the field. He is now off to the Orlando Magic where he will compete with Aaron Gordon for playing time. He should be nothing more than a late-round flier in standard league drafts.
ADP: 109/130 (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 136/135 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 166/170 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 79
Jamal Crawford won his third Sixth Man of the Year Award this season making him the only person in NBA history to do so. He averaged 14.2 points, 2.3 assists and 1.5 triples per game on 40.3 percent shooting from the field. Crawford just re-signed with the Clippers for three-years worth $42 million dollars and should have the same role as he did last season. Could he win his fourth Sixth Man of the Year Award?
ADP: N/A /N/A (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 188/167 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 159/144 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 60
Aldrich played very little during the season and averaged 4.5 points, 4.2 boards and 1.1 blocks when playing 11.9 minutes as a reserve. During the end of the season when he saw a boost in minutes to 29.6 minutes, he bumped up his averages to an amazing 15.8 points, 11 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. He is now headed to the Minnesota Timberwolves on a three-year, $22 million dollar deal, which is a steal when comparing this deal to some other overpaid players. He will have little value behind Karl-Anthony Towns and Gorgui Deing.
ADP: N/A /N/A (ESPN/Yahoo), Total Value: 237/240 (8/9 cat), Per-Game Value: 266/272 (8/9 cat), Games Played: 67
Coming off his best season, Rivers will be staying with the Clippers after re-signing to a three-year, worth over $35 million. Under his dad he was able to average 8.9 points, 1.9 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game and is out there playing more because of his defense. As long as Paul or Crawford are healthy, Rivers has no fantasy value in standard fantasy leagues.
After a disappointing end to the season, the Clippers hope to bounce back with their stars healthy and ready to make another playoff run. The team has slightly improved but remains much the same while other teams in the West have drastically improved. If Doc Rivers were able to fix some of the obvious mistakes and gather his troops to believe in the system, they might have a chance in the West. This team has at least three All Star caliber players and if they want to win now, it’ll have to be them carrying the heavy workload. Things can still drastically change if Griffin were to be shipped out of town, but until then we can only enjoy what is one of the most fascinating teams in the NBA. Lob City, Lob Lob City!