Boston Celtics fans won’t like this one bit. In a post by Arash Markazi of ESPN Los Angeles, Doc Rivers had this to say about this current Los Angeles Clippers squad:
Rivers said he expects Jordan to be in the running for defensive player of the year this season and has spent the first two days of the Clippers’ training camp in San Diego focusing on defense. Rivers expects the Clippers to be one of the best defensive teams in the league this season.
“They should be better than any team I’ve ever coached, I really believe that,” Rivers said. “They’re more athletic. They don’t have the veteran IQ but they should be in that area. We have a couple of individual defenders that can be dominating on defense. We have great speed but we don’t have the size in some ways as some of the teams I’ve coached.”
I get it. It’s tradition from coaches and players around the league to praise whom they are currently working with. We see it all the time, most recently with the Brandon Jennings-Larry Sanders spat, but Rivers is completely wrong. Maybe age is getting to Doc, but has he forgotten that he coached the 2008 NBA champions? Let’s do a player-by-player comparison of both teams:
Chris Paul vs. Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo was just breaking on the scene once he was joined by the three all-stars in Pierce, Garnett and Allen. But he isn’t comparable to the kind of player that Chris Paul is now. We’re looking at a once every team years type of player in Paul .
Winner: Chris Paul
J.J. Redick vs. Ray Allen
J.J. Redick’s role on this team has been compared to Ray Allen’s role during the Boston Celtics Big-3 era, but he’s no Ray Allen. At this point in his career Allen was the better shooter, scorer and defender.
Winner: Ray Allen
Jared Dudley vs. Paul Pierce
One of the better role players in the league versus one of the five best Boston Celtics players of all-time. This one isn’t close.
Winner: Paul Pierce
Blake Griffin vs. Kevin Garnett
Similar to Dudley vs. Pierce, this isn’t close either. The difference is that Blake Griffin is one hell of a player. Not many forwards can do what he does in the NBA. Problem is during the 08-09 season Garnett could do all of what fans and pundits hope Griffin can improve at. Oh yeah, he was also an all-world defender, a point that Blake may never reach.
Winner: Kevin Garnett
DeAndre Jordan vs. Kendrick Perkins
Offensively Jordan and Perkins are the same, but if Jordan was the defender that Perkins was during the 08-09 season we would be talking about how the Los Angeles Clippers are the favorites in the Western Conference to make it to the finals. Not the Oklahoma City Thunder or San Antonio Spurs.
Winner: Kendrick Perkins
The bench leans a bit toward the Celtics side also. James Posey, Tony Allen, Leon Powe and Sam Cassell brought energy, defense and attitude off the bench. The only player that provides that for the Clippers is Matt Barnes.
While his comments were surely unintentional, Rivers is putting a lot of pressure on himself and the Los Angeles Clippers to perform this coming season. Comparing to what some may think is an all-time great team will do that. Hopefully they’ll live up to it while fighting in the deep Western Conference.