Bloggers Talk: Los Angeles Clippers

Do you read ClipperBlog? What, because you’re not a fan of the Clippers you think you don’t need to? Wrong. How about this, every morning, after checking what new riveting content we put up on Nets Are Scorching, head over to ClipperBlog to read some great analysis/writing by Kevin Arnovitz and D.J. Foster. Today, Foster joins us for BloggersTalk, to discuss the improved LA Clippers.

NAS: After already surpassing their win-total from last season, many Clippers players quoted saying they’re setting their sights on .500 and beyond. How realistic of a goal is this? Is there a reason for Clippers fans to finally be optimistic about the direction this club is going in?

The Clippers are 9-1 when they start a lineup of Baron-Gordon-Butler-Camby-Kaman. If they can have that lineup healthy for an extended period of time, I think it’s reasonable to predict they’ll finish right around .500. Will that be good enough for the playoffs? Well, probably not. Outside of the Clippers, there are 11 other Western Conference teams who could very well finish above .500. So while playing even ball may be realistic, the playoffs really aren’t.

As for the big picture outlook, I think there’s plenty of reasons for Clippers fans to get excited about the future. Eric Gordon, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan are all 21 years old or younger. Chris Kaman is playing like a top 5 NBA center, and is just entering the prime of his career. Baron Davis is re-motivated and has proved that he at least has a few more years left in him. Their best players are all locked up, they have plenty of available cap room to add a big piece, and that future Minnesota draft pick looks tastier by the day.

An awful lot hinges on whether a marquee free agent would want to join the Clippers, but even if everyone turns down the Clippers this Summer, the situation still looks bright. Remember how the Clippers landed two of their key players in Marcus Camby and Rasual Butler? They stole them from luxury-cap weary teams by having plenty of available cap room. With the salary cap headed south, and the Clippers looking to be one of the few teams well below the luxury tax threshold, we could see a repeat situation.

Given the young talent and the positive financial situation, I’d say it’s safe to be optimistic about the Clippers future.

NAS: I’m sure you’ve talked about this to death, but for the sake of Nets fans who are crossing their fingers for the #1 draft pick this June, how disappointed are you that Blake Griffin won’t play his first NBA game until next season (knock on wood)?

It’s obviously pretty disappointing, but by no means is it the end of the world. Were the Clippers going to win a championship once Griffin returned to the floor? Of course not. So as far as this season goes, it doesn’t really hurt. All reports are that Blake will regain 100% of his strength and athleticism despite the injury, and Griffin himself has referred to the injury as “debut delaying” instead of “season ending”. The Clippers may lose a few extra games this season, and will definitely lose some ticket sales, but the future is still intact. This injury could very well end up being insubstantial in the grand scheme of things, as weird as that sounds right now.

NAS: Is Chris Kaman an all-star?

No. This may surprise some people, but I think Marc Gasol has been the better player this year. He’s been shooting 60.4% to Kaman’s 50.5% from the field, has been a slightly better rebounder and shot blocker, has a higher PER rating, EFF rating and more Win-Shares. In virtually every meaningful stat outside of PPG, Marc Gasol has Chris Kaman bested. Add in that Gasol’s Grizzlies have a better a record than the Clippers, and I have a hard time justifying Kaman getting selected over him.

There are the two “open” reserve spots that aren’t bound by position that Kaman could fill, but he’d have to make it over the likes of Deron Williams (not happening), Carlos Boozer, Monta Ellis, Tyreke Evans and Zach Randolph. Just like the rest of his team, Kaman will likely be victimized by playing in the stacked Western Conference. He surely has been playing at an All-Star level, and if he gets selected he’ll be very deserving, but I just don’t see it happening.

NAS: Just for fun here… the Clippers have long been an NBA punchline for organizational ineptitude, but the Nets have been equally laughable for most of their existence outside of a few years in the 2000s. So with the Nets well on their way to having the worst record in NBA history, and the Clippers on the upswing, which organization is more deserving of the bad wrap?

Oh, it’s the Clippers, and it’s not even close. I’ll try to avoid getting in a lengthy self-loathing pissing match, but the Clippers have had two winning seasons in twenty-six years. Think about that. Two winning seasons! Clippers fans talk about their lone playoff-series win in ’05-’06 like an old washed up small-town quarterback talks about his game winning touchdown drive: That’s our moment. That’s the best thing the Clippers have ever done in 26 years; a lone playoff series win.

The Nets had Dr. J for goodness sakes! You got to watch one of the greatest point guards of all time in Jason Kidd play in his prime! I know it’s bad right now, but come on! Am I supposed to feel bad for you Nets fans? You have a young star in Brook Lopez at a position where young stars don’t come along very often. You have cap room. You have the chance at landing John Wall. You have a billionaire owner who can’t wait to open up the checkbook. You’ll have to do a lot worse than that to take over the ineptitude crown from the Clippers. Sorry.