The Clippers are winning games solely by outscoring opponents. Of course that is how games are won, but the defensive emphasis that was pushed throughout training camp and the preseason hasn’t come into fruition. In the first three games of the season the Clippers have given up 332 points. The last team to give up that many points in that time frame was the 2010-11 Houston Rockets team that featured a starting power forward-center combination of Luis Scola and Chuck Hayes.
I’ve mentioned this plenty times whether it be on Twitter or on the site, but the Clippers need to give Jason Collins or Chris Wilcox a call immediately. Price tag may be an issue as they’re both seasoned veterans, but both are comfortable with Doc Rivers‘ system having played form him in Boston and both are a huge improvement from Byron Mullens.
While the defense has definitely been an issue, there’s another reason why the Clippers are giving up loads of points.
Pushing the Pace
The faster you play the more points you score and give up. While the Clippers have given up 332 points they have scored 339. No team has scored that many points in the first three games of the season since the 2009-10 Phoenix Suns. And who was their coach? Alvin Gentry who is currently the assistant head coach of the Clippers. Coincidence? Maybe.
According to NBA Stats, the Clips are currently 7th in pace at 100.67. Again, it’s only been three games, so it’s unclear whether this is a trend that will stick around, but this is uncommon to a team led by Chris Paul. Here’s a chart representing the pace by a CP3-led team since his rookie season in 2005-06:
So far there has been no correlation between the pace that a Paul-led team runs and the final result, but one this is clear: no matter how fast or slow Chris Paul’s team are the offense will still be extremely efficient. Last season there were reports that CP3 and Blake Griffin were both at odds due to Blake wanting to push the pace and Paul wanting to play more in the half-court. With the defense struggling, this pace, or something similar to it, may become a staple in the offense.
The Absence of Antawn Jamison
In the three games, veteran Antawn Jamison has yet to make an appearance off the bench. With his history as a scorer he could be used. In an piece by Scott Howard-Cooper, Jamison pointed out that Doc Rivers plans on using him in a similar way the Miami Heat used Mike Miller.
The 37-year-old Jamison has not played in the first three outings as the start to the plan by coach Doc Rivers to use him sparingly in the regular season with the intent of being healthy and fresh for the playoffs.
via Jamison: Kobe-Dwight Friction was Bad | NBA.com
The “stretch-4″ that was signed this summer is off his best
worst start yet. Here is his stat line for the season:
24 minutes, 3 points (1-8FG, 1-7 3P), 5 rebounds, 1 assists, 7 fouls,
-17 +/-, 82.3 Offensive Rating, 125.0 Defensive Rating, -42.7 Net Rating, 18.8 eFG%, 16.9 TS%
I questioned this signing when it was announced and all of my doubts are being proven right at the moments.
“A Tribe Called Bench” Has Struggled
To be fair, this drop off was expected after losing Lamar Odom due to off-the-court issues and trading Eric Bledsoe for J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley. Due to the other offseason signings, a defensive decline was due, ut after a summer of re-tooling the bench and putting together a unit whose sole responsibility was to score the ball, this group has failed to produce points.
Lineups featuring Jamal Crawford, Matt Barnes and Darren Collison plus a big have been piss poor offensively. Look at the numbers when Ryan Hollins or Byron Mullens are a big with that trio:
Collison-Barnes-Crawford-Hollins: Off. Rating = 90.1, Def. Rating = 74.1
Collison-Barnes-Crawford-Mullens: Off. Rating = 94.8, Def. Rating = 106.8
It’s no shock that a lineup featuring Ryan Hollins has defended better than one featuring Byron Mullens, but offensively neither one is living up to the standards put on them. Look at the numbers from last year’s bench mob when three key wings and a big were paired together:
Barnes-Bledsoe-Crawford-Odom: Off. Rating = 102.9, Def. Rating = 95.0
Barnes-Bledsoe-Crawford-Turiaf: Off. Rating = 100.3 , Def. Rating = 89.0
Barnes-Bledsoe-Crawford-Hollins: Off. Rating = 101.3, Def. Rating = 94.8
It’s not even close and the grouping held their own on the defensive end.
A theory behind this slow start from the reserve unit is the lackadaisical play by Darren Collison. His preseason play was phenomenal by a scoring guards standards, but there has been a severe drop off from that time until now. It is fair to point out the injury he suffered in the final preseason game. It’s limited his explosiveness in the break a tad and has allowed him to be a complete negative on the defensive end.
Replacing Mullens with Jamison in the lineup could also improve the scoring output from the group, but on this schedule they’ll have to settle for the current group. It’s a small sample size, so a complete judgement won’t be made now, but it’s something that an eye will be kept on going forth.
Jamal Crawford’s Trade Value Is Rising
In this league Crawford is a big a known quantity as you’ll find. We know his niche, scoring, and it’s been just that since he’s entered the league. If someone’s keeping up with Sixth Man of the Year standings already, Jamal is likely at the top of that list.
So far, Crawford’s scoring outputs have been 15, 17, and 18 points on efficient efforts (he’s shooting 51 percent from the field). You can write this off as an anomaly as Crawford has shot 47 percent or higher once in his career, but he’s showed his ability to be a “human microwave” in all three appearances. With the additions of Redick and Collison and a possible emergence of Reggie Bullock behind the scenes, this could make Crawford expendable. Getting a defensive-minded big in return for Crawford’s scoring (JC’s contract is non-guarnteed after this season, meaning he could be seen as an expiring to some teams as the summer of 2014 is expected to be loaded with talent) would be the ideal move for LA.