The Los Angeles Clippers need to upgrade at the small forward position.
That’s no secret. The Clippers have been well aware of their woes at the small forward position for some time.Although the recent acquisitions of a consistent spot up shooter in J.J. Redick and a back up big in Spencer Hawes filled major needs for Los Angeles, the need for a lengthy wing defender on the wing will push the club over the top.
When trying to understand if the Clippers have received good enough production from the position, it’s necessary to review the PER. The 3 position posted the lowest combined PER (10.9) of all positions while the opposition had the highest combined PER (13) solely on the wing.
To make the search more specific, the Clippers really just need a small forward who’s capable of getting a hand in Kevin Durant‘s face. That’s what it really boils down to.
They’re more than capable of scoring in their starting unit, and with the addition of Hawes they’ll undoubtedly put up buckets off the bench.
He’s publicly stated his interest in upgrading at the small forward. It’s a necessary move to make and possibly the final one that will solidify the Clippers championship hopes.
Insert Reggie Bullock. He’s not the key to the Clippers overcoming their deficiency from the small forward position, but provides the most plausible scenario for upgrade.
The key to the Clippers trading away players like Matt Barnes and Jared Dudley (to any team that’ll take him) for an asset that’ll strengthen the Clippers from the 3 is the development of Bullock. He’s showed the most promise of Barnes and Dudley with an ability to shoot when open and play adequate defense.
Bullock’s play is good enough to land him a reserve role in the second unit, clearing the way for a better starter.
Bullock averaged 2.7 points and 1.3 rebounds last season. His best game of the season came against the Cleveland Cavaliers, where he put up 14 buckets in 26 minutes.
Bullock has the ability to hit the 3 ball, he’s quick on defense, gets off his feet well and shows decent hoops IQ, the type of player Rivers would love to have command 15-20 minutes a night from the bench.
Although the Clippers scoring took a hit when Bullock entered the game, much of the dip can be attributed to the amount of garbage time collected. For now, the issue for Rivers is if he can trust Bullock to make consistent contributions in the second unit.
If there’s a trade out there for Barnes and Dudley, he’ll have to try first and trust later.
My favorite to upgrade the Clippers small forward position has always been Boston Celtics forward Jeff Green. I’m sure Rivers wouldn’t mind seeing another friendly face from his time in Boston either.
The Celtics receive the third-most production from the 3, so prying Green away from Danny Ainge would be a tough act.
Green posted 16.9 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season; most importantly the Celtics allowed the lowest PER of all five positions at 14.2. He’s the type of durable player who can guard small forwards and power forwards and can give the Clippers massive contributions in the areas that don’t make the stat line every night.
Fortunately Green has a player option for the 2015-16 season that will pay him a bit more than $9 million. The Clippers can match that contract or perhaps do better with a number of cap options which involve the non-guarantee of the salaries of Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes.
Doc could also go Jedi mind trick on Dudley, convincing him exercise the early termination option on the last year of his deal.
The Clippers hole at the 3 isn’t problematic right now, it’s just one of those things that linger in the back of your mind. Similar to when you start your car and the check engine light comes on.
You can drive on it for a bit, but there’s always that fear of it clunking out on the highway. The Clippers are a bit limited in what they can do at the small forward this season.
The best course of action will be to prepare Bullock for a reserve role and shed the fat at a later date.