As they have clearly been one of the winners of this NBA offseason, the Los Angeles Clippers will be set for a championship adventure this upcoming season. With the new talent the team has added to the roster, coach Doc Rivers will need to organize the depth charts and allocate the minutes effectively.
How the backcourt will look
The re-signing of superstar Chris Paul not only saved the Clippers’ backcourt from experiencing a disaster, but it ensured the team of a bright future in the years ahead. Joining the team behind the starting point guard will be Darren Collison, who started 47 games for the Dallas Mavericks last season. For many teams in the league, Collison would be a definite starter, averaging 12.1 points per game through his four-year career. Most likely returning to Los Angeles next season will be point guard Maalik Wayns, who will continue to get limited opportunities. Playing behind two dynamic talents in Paul and Collison, it would be difficult for any 22-year-old guard to receive a lot of minutes on a championship contender.
Business really begins to pick up at the shooting guard position, as newly acquired J.J. Redick will get the starting spot to play alongside Paul along the perimeter. Former college rivals, these two playing together will make other teams work extremely hard on the defensive end. It should not be forgotten, however, that the crafty Jamal Crawford will again be the sixth man for this deep roster. Behind New York’s J.R. Smith, Crawford is arguably the best bench asset you could ask for across the league. Behind Redick, look for him to receive a little less than his average of 29.3 minutes per game from last season.
Sticking with the veteran depth at the shooting guard position, Los Angeles will continue to feature Willie Green off the bench. A 10-year veteran that has turned into a strong defender with a consistent 3-point touch (43 percent career average), Green allows this backcourt to become one of the most complete, taking into account every aspect of basketball. With the newest additions, however, Green’s minutes from last season (16.5 per game) will probably take a small dip.
What about the frontcourt?
In the trade with the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks, the Clippers were able to introduce a new starter at the small forward position. Jared Dudley, the six-year talent, will get the bid for this upcoming season. Deciding on Dudley isn’t a hard choice, considering he brings another 3-point weapon (40.5 percent career average) to Chris Paul’s facilitating game. Behind Dudley, the Clippers will once again have the aggressive Matt Barnes to rely on for defense. Re-signing Barnes will be huge for this team as it is crucial to keep a good level of chemistry with a group chasing a title. The 6’7″ rookie, Reggie Bullock, will receive limited opportunities in the frontcourt. Nevertheless, one thing this team doesn’t need to worry about is depth at the small forward/wingman position.
Possibly the biggest worry for this team, however, rests at the power forward and center spots. Yes, All-Star Blake Griffin will be the starter and keep bringing his athletic highlights. With that being said, the team is in jeopardy of having no true backup for their young star.
Lamar Odom, who provided role-playing minutes in all 82 games last season, is yet to decide whether he wants to return to the Clippers or go back to the Lakers. If Odom bails on Lob City, the Clippers will need to do some shopping for a power forward in the remaining free agent market.
In the middle, DeAndre Jordan will be the starter to round out the lineup. Jordan and Griffin offer athleticism to go along with Paul’s leadership and the shooting from Redick and Dudley. Backing up Jordan, more pressure has been put on seven-year player Ryan Hollins. There is no doubting that Hollins will receive more playing time next season (11.1 minutes per game in 2012-13), as primary backup Ronny Turiaf agreed to join the Minnesota Timberwolves.
It’s as clear and obvious as anything; the frontcourt has room to make adjustments.
Will Rivers be successful in handling minutes next season?
If I was a Clippers fan, I would sure be excited.