The NBA as viewed by 4 Aussies, with the latest news, reviews and opinions
Hello basketball fans, Jack writing,
As you all know, or will know soon, I am a big Clippers fan. I have supported them since about 2009, back when they were horrible. The reason I started following them was because they played in the first game I watched in the NBA, and by some amazing fluke, they won! I have followed them ever since, as my no. 1 team. But when they made a good run last year and had their first playoffs series win ever, after making the move to Los Angeles in 1984. It was one of my proudest days as a Clipper fan, in that game 7 win against the Grizzlies. But then it set in… the Clippers aren’t even that good, we are going to do terribly in the draft and will probably end up finishing second last in the pacific division.
But alas, due to some phenomenal trading in the off-season so far, the Clippers are looking stronger than ever and is looking like making the playoffs again this year. The Clippers management signed Chauncey Billups, before trading well for Lamar Odom and then Jamal Crawford. The also held onto Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, who had worked well together in the previous year.
Now it may be just me and my Clipper-fan hype at anything which could mean some sot of success for my team, but for the first time since the 80’s, the Clippers are in real contention for a place in the Conference Championships.
But before us Clippers fans get all teary-eyed and excited about our team being a success and sweeping the finals for our first championship, we have to beat the team across the street… the Lakers.
They’ve done well in the off-season too, acquiring Steve Nash, but they haven’t made quite as much ground as the clippers. So I am going to do a position-by-position comparison.
1. Chris Paul VS Steve Nash:
This will be a good battle, while Nash has the experience and the MVPs to back it up, Chris Paul is still young but shows great talent at his position. Shooting from the field, Nash scores 53.2%, while Paul only scores at 42.7%. Chris Paul has a higher PPG though17.6 as opposed to 12.5, which could just be correlated with Paul playing for a better team. Chris Paul is also going to dominate Nash on defense, which could be key to the match up. The other important stat for a PG, assists, is dominated by Nash, 10.7 to 7.9, so at this stage, I am going to give the point to the Lakers. However, we don’t know how well Nash and Kobe Bryant are going to gel together, and for this reason I’m putting this match-up down as going to Chris Paul.
Clippers 1 : 0 Lakers
2. Chauncey Billups VS Kobe Bryant:
Last year, Chauncey Billups Tore his Achilles tendon, and that meant the end for his season. But for the time he was healthy, he put up a consistent 14.9 PPG average, with 4 assists average and scoring 36.4% of the time from the field. Whereas Kobe was shooting 43% from the field with 4.6 APG and 27.9 PPG, so it looks like an easy win for Bryant. Bryant is also a better defender than Billups.
However, Billups scored 38.4% from 3-pointers, higher than his overall field goal percentage, compared to Kobe’s 30.3% shooting for 3. So in the Lakers VS Clippers games, if Billups can force Kobe to play on the outside and shoot from the perimeter, and not be afraid to go for the threes when necessary, he could win the position battle. Bryant gets the point here, but Billups can play well and keep him quiet.
Clippers 1 : 1 Lakers
3. Bobby Simmons VS Metta World Peace
With the recent loss of Nick Young, the Clippers are going to struggle at Small Forward, as opposed to World Peace’s stats of 39.4% and 29.6% respectively. We haven’t seen much of Bobby Simmons, so we can’t make any good judgments as to how well he will play this year. However, in the playoffs, while on court, he was shooting 55.6% from the field, so that’s promising. World Peace is going to be a much bigger force on defense, which pushes the point over to the Lakers.
Clippers 1 : 2 Lakers
4. Blake Griffin VS Pau Gasol
Blake Griffin is going to be the highlight machine he has always been, and at 23, he has a lot left in him. Blake Griffin is scoring at 50% from the field and 19.1 PPG, plus 2.5 assists. I know all of his field goals where from inside the paint or slam-dunks and alley-oops, but he can get to the rim quickly and successfully every time and can always be counted on to play well and step it up when it counts. His free throwing is something which must be improved, he is only shooting 63.6% from behind the line… that’s worse than me! But he still manages to score consistently from the paint. Pau Gasol is not far behind, he is shooting 50.1% from the field and averaging 17.4 PPG, with 3.6 assists. Pau Gasol is a better defender, however, the question at the moment is whether or not Gasol will still be playing for the Lakers next year, and if so, the Lakers only have Matt Barnes and Jordan Hill to replace him.
The point here goes to the Clippers.
Clippers 2 : 2 Lakers
5. DeAndre Jordan VS Andrew Bynum:
DeAndre Jordan is a solid player, but he is nothing special, you can rely on him for consistent work in the paint, but not much else. Whereas Bynum is brilliant now, and averaging 18.7 PPG and shooting 55.8% from the field is sure a good way to back it up with some stats. DeAndre Jordan is going to have a presence on the defense, however, Bynum is also catching 11.8 rebounds every game on average, which makes him the stand-out winner at #5.
Clippers 2 : 3 Lakers
With Crawford and Odom sitting on the starting bench, you know your side has strength. both are excellent players and will perform well for their new team the Clippers. And Devon Ebanks and Ramon Sessions will do their job for the Lakers, I have to give a point to the Lakers. However, Last year, especially in the playoffs, the Clippers bench was a pivotal part of the team, and often scored 20+ points in a game. So now, with two excellent players coming in who are starting on the bench, the Clippers 6 and 7 are going to have an even bigger impact than they did last year. Lamar Odom has averaged 8.6 rebounds per game throughout his career and will be an important part of the Clippers inside play, while Jamal Crawford is scoring at 40.8% from the field and averaging 15.3 points per game through his career. These two players will bring all they have to the Clippers and improve a bench that was already doing wonders for the team last year, so I will give 1 point to the Lakers. The Lakers 6 & 7 are slightly better than the clippers 6 & 7, however, the rest of the Clippers bench are better than the rest of the Lakers bench, so the point goes to the Clippers, for the bench.
Clippers 3 : 3 Lakers
So if we factor in the benches, and what an important role they play in the Clippers team, we can see that, at least on paper, the Clippers have what it takes to become the number 1 Los Angeles team. But they have to prove it with a good start to the season and some early wins against the Lakers, and show their fans and the league that they really have what it takes to make a run in the playoffs and be a force in West. The Clippers have done really well this off-season, with good trading and resigning, now they have to reinforce it with a strong record for the first half of the season. The Lakers VS Clippers match up will be decided at the point, if Kobe and Nash gel, then they will be hard to beat, but if Paul and Billups can maintain them and keep Kobe on the outside, they will be able to win. I predict that if the Clippers can have a good winning record, at least 22-18, and beat the Lakers in the first half of the season, they will start to be considered as equal or greater than their cross-town rivals, and be a dominant team in the league.
Yours in basketball,