So with last night’s loss against the Sacramento Kings in what was a good close game, the Clippers preseason can be officially called over. The team finished with a record of 1 win and 7 losses. So what does this mean? It means nothing, this is preseason, where it is not about the wins and losses but about player and team development.
Blake Griffin looks as solid as ever. I know this has been said over and over and over again but dude is a beast. His dynamic presence combined with his hustle and athleticism always makes him heard on the court. We are not seeing the next Karl Malone nor or we seeing the next Amare Stoudamire. Blake Griffin is in an entirely new category of his own. In this league where speed and athleticism is valued more than anything else, Blake is the mold of the new type of top tier power forward that this league is starting to see. With the huge influx of athletic speedy point guards over the last several years, it was only a matter of time before the other positions started seeing some changes too. And Blake Griffin is heading this new direction the NBA is going with their players. Dynamic, athletic, and highlight reel material.
The rookie of the year debate is highly competitive between Blake Griffin and other first pick, John Wall. Preseason has shown that these two are the top rookies of this class and that there is no competition right now. DeMarcus Cousins is too inconsistent and everyone else is either too raw or not ready for the NBA game yet. This is going to be a fun year for Clippers fans to follow the race for rookie of the year between Griffin and Wall.
Preseason has also shown the importance of veteran players Chris Kaman and Baron Davis. For all the haters and doubters of Baron Davis right now, he is the still the undisputed point guard and leader of the team and no matter how you slice and dice it, he is the only player that will get everyone else great open looks. He is not fat like many people feared and has even made many athletic plays such as his two above the rim block against the Nuggets. And Chris Kaman is still continuing his all star play from last season. His jumper is smooth and wet and he’s starting to learn how to pass out of a double team. The front court of him and Griffin is going to be unstoppable.
A negative aspect that preseason has shown us is that the Clippers still have troubles closing out games. The last 5 games of the preseason was close but the team was never able to finish it out till the end. Last night, we were one Tyreke Evans lay up away from an overtime situation. The game against the Denver Nuggets, Clippers came down from 18 only to have Blake Griffin miss two crucial free throws and the team to suddenly forget how to rebound at the end. Closing out games is a mental challenge where the mind has to fight through the fact that the body is tired and the fact that the game is almost over and everything is going to be on the line. I think with Vinny Del Negro coaching and veteran leadership of Baron Davis, confidence can be taught to all the youngins and the mental breakdown that the team goes through in the last minute of the game could disappear. Eric Gordon especially needs some confidence boosters because once he gets that killer instinct, he will be the best closer the team has ever had since Sam Cassell did the big balls dance for us.
The first official regular season game of the Clippers is next Wednesday 10-27-10 against the Portland Trailblazers. The rotations are pretty much set with Gomes as the starting small forward with our core 4 and the bench consisting of everyone but the rookies it seems. And for everyone that is still distraught over our preseason record, just remember, the Minnesota Timberwolves have a record of 5 wins and 2 losses. Think about that.