Let’s review: The Los Angeles Clippers need a bit of help to be considered legitimate contenders for next season.
There are definitely question marks on the team, core and bench alike. Will the Clippers re-sign DeAndre Jordan? Can Chris Paul continue to stay healthy and elite? Is there another small forward option available? What happened to Spencer Hawes?
The easy fix is the bench. The Clippers’ bench was atrocious during the playoffs. It was a two-man game for the majority of the postseason with Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers as the main contributors. The starters played nearly 40 minutes each and every game and the Clippers were exhausted after the Houston Rockets rallied from a 3-1 deficit. It would be wishful thinking to place the Clippers over the Golden State Warriors for the chance to face the Cleveland Cavaliers. They were simply too worn down.
How to fix the bench and where? First, the Clippers need a reliable backup center that coach Doc Rivers can coach up. The team was confused on Hawes’ role for the overall team picture and never fully utilized the big man’s talents. He didn’t play enough to replicate the consistency and level of play he achieved as a Philadelphia 76er.
The best options at center for the Clippers’ bench list at: Kevin Seraphin, Aron Baynes, and Kosta Koufos. With a small exception to Koufos, they all share the same attributes — good shooting, post-up game, rebounding, and free-throw percentages. These are quality big men that could start if given the best opportunity, but the Clippers could use any of the three to backup Jordan (if they re-sign him) and play them at 15-20 minutes a game. Based off the statistical history, that should be enough for all three to contribute a meaningful 6-8 points, 4-6 rebounds, with very good percentages.
The next hurdle is small forward. The list of attainable free agents is a slim one. There is news of a fit with Paul Pierce, but the best option is either an expensive one in Tobias Harris or a cheaper route in Jae Crowder. Both will be sought after, but if the Clippers provide better incentive, re: championship, either one may be possible. A powerhouse team with Harris would warrant immediate attention.
So, the off season will be busy and the Clippers will need some help. If the last five years is any indication, there will be some provided.
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