With free agency slowed to a crawl and rosters filled out close to the point of saturation, it’s time to start breaking down Los Angeles’ two NBA teams and their cast of characters for the upcoming season. Sure, things will change between now and when the Lakers and Clippers face off on opening night, Oct. 29, but the major pieces are in place, and all that’s left to be addressed are issues of depth.
Today, it’s the Clippers’ turn, and the Lakers breakdown will come Thursday morning.
If you’ve been paying attention to anything NBA-related this offseason, you’ll have noticed the Clippers. You’ll likely have heard their praises sung on high, everything from the (however messily executed) Doc Rivers coup to re-signing Chris Paul to the Eric Bledsoe trade to the reserve players they attracted, many at pay cuts. They’re sitting pretty, that’s for sure, with a solid core of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan and a coach with championship experience.
That said, questions remain; there’s very little depth behind Griffin at power forward, and the same could be said for the situation at center, especially if Jordan fails to take his game to the next level.
The Clippers are set at the wing, though, with solid shooters three deep, and having Paul as point guard directing that kind of offense should counteract any issues of big man depth. Plus, the team can still add two players; they won’t be superstars, but it could gain more depth or take a chance on a younger player who didn’t stick anywhere this summer come training camp.
So now, the 2013-14 Clippers: POINT GUARD
Chris Paul Came to the Clippers… in a David Stern-orchestrated trade in Dec. 2011 from the Hornets. He then re-signed with the Clippers this summer for a five-year, $107 million deal. Last season: 16.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 9.7 assists per game on 48.1 percent shooting, 26.4 PER Projected role: He’ll start, lead the team, and its success will be in large part tied to him performing as he has in recent seasons. Basketball-reference.com projected 2013-14 numbers: 18.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 9.7 assists PER 36 MINUTES (slightly worse than 2012-13 numbers)
Darren Collison Came to the Clippers… this summer in free agency, agreeing to a large pay cut in the form of a two-year, $1.9 million deal. Last season: 12.0 points, 2.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game on 47.1 percent shooting, 16.3 PER Projected role: He’ll back up Paul, and he’ll be able to shoulder as heavy a minutes load as necessary after starting for much of his career. He signed on knowing he’d be a backup, and it’ll be interesting to see whether that role helps him with his recent struggles. Projected 2013-14 numbers: 14.3 points, 3.6 rebounds and 6.0 assists per 36 minutes (essentially the same as 2012-13 numbers)
Maalik Wayns Came to the Clippers… last March, to a series of two 10-day contracts before the team signed him on March 29 for the remainder of the season (and for 2013-14, although the deal is not guaranteed). Last season: 2.8 points, 0.3 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game on 29.5 percent shooting, 5.0 PER Projected role: Will likely play only in the case of an emergency. Projected 2013-14 numbers: 14.4 points, 3.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists per 36 minutes (better than 2012-13 numbers)
J.J. Redick Came to the Clippers… in a sign-and-trade deal this summer from Milwaukee, where he played the second half of last season. He’s signed for four years to the tune of $27 million. Last season: 14.1 points, 2.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game on 43.4 percent shooting, 14.7 PER Projected role: He’ll start, most likely, and will be the kind of shooter last year’s team might have liked in its starting five. That said, with the team’s depth at the wing, he may not see too huge of a minutes burden. Projected 2013-14 numbers: 16.0 points, 2.9 rebounds and 4.0 assists per 36 minutes (essentially the same as 2012-13 numbers)
Jamal Crawford Came to the Clippers… in the summer of 2012, when he signed a four-year, $25 million deal. Last season: 16.5 points, 1.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game on 43.8 percent shooting, 16.8 PER Projected role: It’ll look much the same as last year, to provide minutes, scoring and energy off the bench. P projected 2013-14 numbers: 19.1 points, 2.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists per 36 minutes (slightly worse than 2012-13 numbers)
Willie Green Came to the Clippers… in a trade during the 2012 offseason. The team picked up his $1.4 million option for 2013-14 this summer. Last season: 6.3 points, 1.3 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game on 46.1 percent shooting, 11.8 PER Projected role: After starting for much of last season without playing significant minutes, Green will shift to the team’s third option at shooting guard. Projected 2013-14 numbers: 14.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists per 36 minutes (slightly better than 2012-13 numbers)
Jared Dudley Came to the Clippers… from Phoenix in the J.J. Redick trade this summer. He’s under contract for three more seasons, although the third is a player option. Last season: 10.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game on 46.8 percent shooting, 14.9 PER Projected role: He’ll start, but he could play fewer minutes than he did last year in Phoenix, when his team had little to no depth. Projected 2013-14 numbers: 14.4 points, 4.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists per 36 minutes (essentially the same as 2012-13 numbers)
Matt Barnes Came to the Clippers… as a free agent during the 2012 offseason. He re-signed this summer to a three-year, $11 million contract. Last season: 10.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game on 46.2 percent shooting, 15.5 PER Projected role: The same as last year, to provide energy off of the bench. Projected 2013-14 numbers: 13.7 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.4 assists per 36 minutes (slightly worse than 2012-13 numbers)
Reggie Bullock Came to the Clippers… from the University of North Carolina as the 25th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Last season: 13.9 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game on 48.3 percent shooting (in college at North Carolina) Projected role: It certainly won’t be a large one, but he should be allowed to contribute if he earns it on the court. Projected 2013-14 numbers: None, rookie
Blake Griffin Came to the Clippers… from the University of Oklahoma as the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft. He signed a five-year, $95 million extension in the 2012 offseason. Last season: 18.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game on 53.8 percent shooting, 22.4 PER Projected role: As one of the team’s three core players, Griffin will be asked to lead the offense, shouldering heavy minutes at a position where the team lacks depth. His numbers have worsened in every season since he was drafted, and this year is his chance to reverse that trend under a new coach. Projected 2013-14 numbers: 20.4 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.8 assists per 36 minutes (slightly better than 2012-13 numbers)
Byron Mullens Came to the Clippers… in free agency this summer. He signed a two-year, $2 million contract. Last season: 10.6 points, 6.4 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game on 38.5 percent shooting, 12.3 PER Projected role: Although he’s often labeled a center, it seems likely that Mullens will back up Griffin at power forward; there really isn’t a better option on the team’s roster. He won’t be asked to play big minutes, most likely, and certainly fewer than he contributed last season on a terrible Bobcats team. Projected 2013-14 numbers: 14.7 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists per 36 minutes (essentially the same as 2012-13 numbers)
DeAndre Jordan Came to the Clippers… as the No. 35 pick in the 2008 draft. He re-signed with the team after the lockout in a four-year, $43 million deal. Last season: 8.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 0.3 assists per game on 64.3 percent shooting, 17.2 PER Projected role: Rivers would like Jordan to lead the team’s defense, and as always, the team is expecting him to take the next step in his development. Under a new coach, he may see more impactful minutes, as well. Projected 2013-14 numbers: 12.0 points, 10.6 rebounds and 0.6 assists per 36 minutes (slightly worse than 2012-13 numbers) Ryan Hollins Came to the Clippers… in free agency in the 2012 offseason. He re-signed this summer to a one-year, minimum deal. Last season: 3.4 points, 2.3 rebounds and 0.2 assists per game on 61.4 percent shooting, 11.3 PER Projected role: It’ll be similar to last season, when he filled in at center off of the bench. It’s doubtful he’ll be asked to contribute too much. Projected 2013-14 numbers: 11.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.0 assists per 36 minutes (essentially the same as 2012-13 numbers)