Analyzing the Disappointing Teams Part II: Los Angeles Clippers

The next disappointing team I’ll be taking a look at is the Los Angeles Clippers. Despite losing Elton Brand in the offseason, the team made enough moves in the offseason (most notably acquiring Baron Davis and Marcus Camby) to at least earn the title of a potential sleeper pick. The big names are there this year (with the exception of Chris Kaman right now), but the wins are not. The Clippers sit at 9-31, second worst in the Western Conference and third worst in the NBA.

On defense, Los Angeles is only slightly below average, ranking 17th in the league in points allowed per 100 possessions. They’re actually quite good at the most important thing, allowing a low field goal percentage. In the other three of the Four Factors they’re nothing special. However, defense isn’t the problem.

The Clippers have the worst offense in the NBA. That sounds hard to believe considering that they have Baron Davis, Zach Randolph, and Al Thornton, but it’s true. Their effective field goal percentage is the worst in the NBA and they also turn the ball over often and fail to get to the free throw line. If they weren’t pretty good at crashing the offensive boards, their efficiency could be horrific.

As always with struggling teams, injuries are a concern. Baron Davis and Marcus Camby have been banged up a bit and missed a few games each but the biggest problem has been the absence of Kaman. The talented big man has appeared in just 15 games this season and is out for the foreseeable future. He’s definitely an above average center and it’s not easy to find power players as good as him.

The funny thing is, the Clippers have. Despite lacking Kaman, the Clippers have still been able to trot out a starting frontcourt of Camby and Randolph. Camby’s been good although he won’t help you much on the offensive end. Unfortunately, that’s exactly where the team needs help. His Offensive Composite Score is actually quite high through the early parts of the season but I can’t reasonably expect that to last. Randolph is supposed to be the opposite, a weak defender with a natural scoring touch. Oddly enough, his Defensive Composite Score is better than his OCS (although he’s above average in that area as well). However, he’s never been extremely efficient.

The rest of the starting lineup has been decent. Davis has a pretty high OCS despite having a very poor true shot percentage of 45.5%. Eric Gordon’s DCS is good and he’s already a passable three-point shooter as a rookie. Thornton hasn’t lived up to the expectations he’d had for this year but his overall Composite Score is above average.

The problem is their bench. Mardy Collins is a solid defender but he’s hardly a Sixth Man of the Year candidate. After him, who else can they turn to for production off the bench? Paul Davis, Jason Hart, Mike Taylor, and Brian Skinner are all in the bottom tenth of the league in Composite Score. But that’s not the worst of it. Free agent acquisition Ricky Davis currently owns the title as the worst player in the NBA according to Composite Score.

So there you have it. The Los Angeles Clippers are a hobbled team with not quite good enough stars and a bad supporting cast. It’s not all bad though. Kaman should come back eventually. Plus, it’s always easier to find role players than it is to find playmakers (check out my Championship Manifesto for more on that).

Unfortunately, the West is still tough and the Clippers are so far back that a playoff appearance is just about impossible. They’re also not that young and have a lot of salary committed to Kaman, Randolph and Davis in the future.

Keep your head up Clippers fans. Things can turn around quickly in the NBA. If not, there’s always 2010.

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