In the opening game of the season, DeAndre Jordan logged 40 minutes of play.
His parter-in-crime Blake Griffin played 35 minutes.
Ryan Hollins played an incoherent three minutes while Antawn Jamison and THE Byron Mullens both produced DNPs.
Since Jordan and Griffin are both young and the season is only one game in, this strategy may work at the moment. Despite their ages and otherworldly athletic abilities, they still remain human which means they will eventually grow tired when forced to endure a lot of wear and tear over the season. But how do you give your starting bigs a rest when their alternatives are complete negatives within Doc Rivers system? It’ll be something asked until a solution is found.
It’s why the Mullens and Jamison signings caused much ruckus. On a team that had the personnel to score lots of points, Rivers opted to sign players that could only contribute to the offensive end, leaving the teams most apparent weakness to remain the same. Including the starting bigs, the Clippers front court struggled defensively last season. Rivers will change some of that with the scheme he’ll bring over from the Boston Celtics, but in a game where individuals have a large hand in the result of the game, Rivers can’t make his team defend without the players.
In Boston, Rivers relied on the likes of Rasheed Wallace, Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnett to anchor his famed defense. In LA he’s expecting DeAndre Jordan to make a jump toward that level of player to make his scheme work in Los Angeles. Yet with his inconsistencies shown over the past seasons why not bring in someone that can fill the roll in case Jordan gets in foul trouble or mentally lapses on the defensive side of the ball?
The pickings were slim this past summer, but there were some notable names in the free agent market that could help this team. Fast forward to now when teams have all emptied the pool of quality players and there isn’t much left for the Clippers to choose from. Dwight Howard was the best defensive free agent overall, but the gap between he and the next player, probably Zaza Pachulia or Samuel Dalembert, is extremely large. Both players opted for bigger roles and more dollars jumping out of the Clippers price range.
At this moment, the best free agent big men left over are Desagana Diop, Joel Pryzbilla, Johan Petro, Lou Amundson, Earl Barron, Drew Gooden and Chris Wilcox. You wouldn’t shame Doc Rivers if he decided to stick with what he has over someone in this group. An interesting move could be Los Angeles looking into Jason Collins. Offensively he’s adding nothing, but of all the free agents available, he’s easily the best defensively. It also helps that Collins knows exactly what Rivers wants out of a defensive center, having played 32 games (started 7) for the Boston Celtics last season. Price tag could be an issue due to his seniority in the league outside of other issues that’s kept free agents away from JC this summer. Wilcox is also a former Rivers play who could help down low.
February could be the next time the Clippers address this is issue as the playoff-eligible and trade deadline could be their chance to add a solid player to the roster. Many have noted that Jamal Crawford could be a piece that’s dangled in order to bring in a defensive-minded big due to the team needing his skill set less and less. Bill Simmons threw out the idea of the Phoenix Suns buying out Emeka Okafor (if he’s healthy) and the Clippers swooping in for his services. He’d be the perfect fit for this club.
A healthy and motivated Marcus Camby can be an option later on in the season after being waived by the Houston Rockets as he’s currently set to receive surgery on his left foot. Though he hasn’t expressed an interest in returning to the NBA when healthy, a return to a contending team all while playing relevant minutes could be inciting to the veteran.
It’s nice to see Doc Rivers instilling faith in DeAndre Jordan defensively, something Vinny Del Negro never sought to do, but putting all of your eggs in one basket has never been a sound strategy. In a baseball analogy that fits the situation, even starting pitchers need relievers. One game isn’t a perfect indicator when judging the possible results of a 82 game season, but I’m just pointing out what will be news 20 games from now. We’ll see if Rivers and company make a move to correct this flaw.