Sugene Lee

Posts Tagged ‘LA Clippers’

Blake Griffin asked to grow up too fast

In NBA: LA Clippers on May 16, 2012 at 4:46 pm

Blake Griffin has now played a full season of 82 games, a shortened season of 66 games, and 8 playoff games. That’s only a total of 156 games in his career. That’s not a whole lot, right?

Yet, people around the league, whether they be opposing players, coaches, columnists, analysts, or fans, are asking Blake to do things it took other players at least 5 years to do (myself included). Blake didn’t come into the league with a full set of skills. He came in with an explosiveness that couldn’t match anyone else’s, ridiculous jumping and dunking ability, and most importantly, a hard work ethic. His work ethic is what essentially got Blake to average 20+ points, 10+ rebounds, and 3+ assists in his career. To make up for his lack of skills, he keeps his motor on at 100% any time his feet are on the court. He has yet to develop a solid post move, is slowly developing a mid-range jumper, and still has a cringe-worthy free throw shot. But how can you criticize a player who’s putting up these kinds of numbers purely on talent?

In the span of being in the league for two years, he has gone from a being on a lovable team who had zero expectations, to a despised team trying to contend for a championship. Of course, this had to be expected with Clippers GM, Neil Olshey, acquiring Chris Paul, Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups before the season started. But if you think about it, three of the five starters have never been to the playoffs until this year; one of them being, Blake Griffin. The injuries have plagued the Clippers, which they don’t use as an excuse, but I will. In only his second year, people have gone from loving his highlight worthy dunks, to dismissing and hating them. Why? I don’t know. Perhaps it’s because he does his “Blake Face” instead of pounding on his chest like a gorilla. Maybe it’s because of the way he stares at refs for a no-call. Or maybe it’s even because he gets hit in the face and “flops” so that the refs can see it. Okay, he has flopped before, but who hasn’t? He doesn’t do it excessively and I haven’t seen him do it for a while now. But let’s be real. The kid gets beat up during games and gets hated for it. The media has hyped up his “flopping” so much that it’s just a part of him now. It’s in his name. But when’s the last time selling a call after getting hit in the face was a flop? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought flopping was flailing your arms and body with little or no contact (i.e. Manu Ginobili).

As a fan, it’s even frustrating for me to watch him get back on defense because he’s always the last one to get across the court. It’s frustrating to see his averages drop tremendously in the playoffs. It’s frustrating when he can’t box out a Boris Diaw or Tim Duncan. Against Memphis, he might’ve gotten a pass for not being able to out rebound Zach Randolph or Marc Gasol, but they should be out rebounding the Spurs with ease.

So even as a fan who will defend Blake Griffin in whatever situation he’s in, I do get annoyed with the way he plays, even when he’s injured. And maybe it’s because nobody knows the extent of his sprained knee, but I do still have high expectations. And I think I just proved my point by being a hypocrite. We all expect so much out of Blake that we criticize everything he does wrong. We want faster results, but it’s not going to happen because he can only get so much better, so fast. Nobody was expecting the Clippers to get to the finals, especially after Chauncey Billups went down. But deep down, I think we, Clipper fans, still wanted them to somehow, impossibly, get there. At least, that’s how I felt.

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Is it a lack of effort?

In NBA: LA Clippers on March 7, 2012 at 3:18 am

Typically, after the All-Star Break, teams contending for a title and those who have a chance will turn on “The Switch,” as DJ Foster stated in his article: http://clipperblog.com/2012/03/06/the-switch/

The Lakers, in particular, have been the best at turning on that switch and so far, they’re proving just that. The Clippers on the other hand, have been on a teeter-totter after coming back from the break. For a team with this much talent seems to have run out of gas whether it’s because of Chauncey Billups’ torn achilles, pathetic defense, too much reliance on Chris Paul at the end of games, Caron Butler’s slump, Vinny Del Negro’s horrible coaching, or their tough schedule. Or perhaps it’s a combination of all of these.

But is it time to panic? Probably not, but it’s definitely time to be worried. Not because they’re just losing games, but because they’re losing games they should be winning. The Clippers have already beaten multiple title contenders, so we know exactly what they’re capable of. Others may say, but that’s when they had Chauncey Billups. However, since his season-ending injury, they’ve gotten wins against a great Philadelphia team, Portland (before their downhill slope), gave themselves a chance to win against Dallas, and probably should have beaten the Spurs a few weeks ago.

Since nobody else knows the exact reason as to why this is occurring, as a very emotionally-attached fan, this is my opinion. Effort. Plain and simple. Sure, they can say they’re trying to win games against teams who have no business in making the playoffs, but the way they start is completely different from the way they start against championship contenders. Against teams “lower” than them, the Clippers play down to their level and get beat at it, while teams who are “equal” or higher than them, the Clippers play like their pants are on fire and come out with a ton of energy. As a team, their defense picks up and automatically leads to better offense.

Anyone can blame the tough schedule, as they played 10 of their last 14 games on the road, but the effort seems to be lacking on all sides. Perhaps the only exception is Caron Butler who has probably been the most consistent player on the team, but is now missing wide open shots and went scoreless against Minnesota Monday night. Maybe he lost his confidence? Is it his age? I just have no idea what’s up with him.

There are an endless number of reasons as to why the Clippers have been a .500 team since Billups went down, but to me, they still have the potential to go deep into the playoffs. It’s just a matter of effort.

On a brighter note: The Clippers’ bench seems to be a lot more active on both ends, and have brought their starters back into the game multiple times on this road trip. Bobby Simmons has a great asset to contribute to the bench, Kenyon Martin is hitting jumpers pretty consistently and is an amazing defender, Eric Bledsoe is getting his legs back, and the trade deadline is coming up. Perhaps, we’ll add someone to the likes of, oh I don’t know. Ray Allen? Jamal Crawford?

Edit: Right after I posted this entry, Lakers lost to Detroit. I guess Clippers are back on top of the Pacific Division, but I wouldn’t get too excited too soon.