What is the Clippers’ fatal flaw this season?
For two years, the Los Angeles Clippers' bench has been its biggest flaw.
The team had six or seven rotation-quality players in their playoff rotation last season, and it cost them dearly as their lack of depth eventually wore down their starters.
This season, though, the Clippers reloaded their bench with Paul Pierce, Lance Stephenson (who is actually starting), Josh Smith, Wesley Johnson and Pablo Prigioni. On paper, they look much better. They have, you know, actual NBA players on their bench. But there are some issues with their new talent: Namely perimeter shooting and overall efficiency.
Sporting News recently did a series of each team's fatal flaw heading into the season, and determined the Clippers' new additions could hurt more than they help:
The Clippers will certainly miss a player like Matt Barnes, who understood his role and never stepped outside of it. He defended the opponent's best wing scorer, hustled, lurked behind defenses and cut to get open, and spotted up in the corner. His role was simple, yet he was effective in it.
Los Angeles needs Stephenson, Smith and Johnson to buy into their new roles. Pierce has already transitioned into a smaller role the past couple seasons, and while it may be a slight adjustment for him coming off the bench, he's a professional and will not complain or disrupt the locker room.
There is some legitimate concern about Stephenson and Smith, in particular, as both have struggled with poor shot selection, lazy defense and turnovers in the past. Neither player will have a significant role with the Clippers most likely, but if they can at least buy into coach Doc Rivers' schemes and their limitations, they will far more effective and efficient, and possibly play more.
Though the Clippers certainly plugged some of the holes on their roster, they also created some other ones, and will need to address them.
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are two of the six or seven most offensively gifted players in the world. They are smart, efficient and talented on a level that has led the Clippers to the top of offensive efficiency for the past two years. But what happens when the supporting cast doesn’t stay in its lane?
That’s the worry with the additions of Lance Stephenson, Josh Smith, Paul Pierce and Wesley Johnson this offseason. Stephenson and Smith are known to take shots they don’t make often enough, while Pierce has spent most of his Hall of Fame-bound career creating his own shots. As strange as it sounds, the Clippers really are going to miss Matt Barnes’ catch-and-shoot discipline and skill.