A busy offseason has seen the Los Angeles Clippers make some intriguing moves.
They got their stretch big man in Lamar Odom, but had to deal sixth man Mo Williams in the process. It was a savvy move by the GM-less Clippers, who are doing everything possible to make Lob City a contender, and keep Chris Paul in Hollywood for years to come.
Last week the Clippers also got news that they would be losing swing man Nick Young to the 76ers" target="_blank">Philadelphia 76ers and will send energizer Reggie Evans to the Brooklyn Nets via sign-and-trade.
The Clippers have their starting lineup and a solid bench with Odom, Eric Bledsoe and presumably Billups when he returns from injury.
Now Lob City needs to fill out the remaining holes in its roster with quality players.
Coach Vinny Del Negro has demonstrated that he does not always play the tightest rotations. During last year's postseason run, Del Negro often put five bench players on the court together for significant minutes (see Game 7 against Memphis).
Bringing in players that will be able to contribute is paramount if the Clippers are to make it deeper in the playoffs.
With just the bi-annual exception and the veteran's minimum at the team's disposal, the Clippers' brass will need to make clever moves to keep them in the race for a title.
Here is what the team should be looking for.
An Athletic Wing Defender:
The lanky forward is quickly becoming the most difficult position in the NBA to guard.
These players are slashers, that crash the boards and can consistently knock down the open jump shot.
Despite having a rough first round against the Clips, the Grizzlies' Rudy Gay beat up on the Clippers wing defenders early and often.
LA did a nice job of throwing different looks at him, holding the UConn product to 19.0 PPG. Nevertheless, Gay still had an impact on the game for the Griz.
He dominated Caron Butler and Nick Young on the boards, grabbing nearly seven a game, and forced the Clippers to consistently send help to the block.
Ultimately, it was a referendum on the wing defender for the Clips.
Clearly Nick Young was not the answer, Randy Foye lacked the height and Caron Butler didn't have the legs to keep up with a lanky wing for 48 minutes.
The series elucidated a major hole on the team's roster.
The Clippers desperately need a backup 3 that can crash the boards, hit the open jump shot and defend multiple positions.
A Backup Big Man:
Outside of DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers lack a true center on their roster.
Big man Reggie Evans provided energy and veteran Kenyon Martin gave them a defensive edge, but the Clips really suffered from not having a backup big man that could hold down the paint with the rest of the second unit.
It become so severe that Jordan became a liability during the postseason.
With no semblance of an offensive game outside of three feet and impatient defensive tendencies, Jordan got torched by Grizzlies' big men Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, and then embarrassed by the Spurs' Tim Duncan.
Big man free-throw shooting was also devastating for the Clips in the playoffs.
Jordan knocked down just 33 percent of his free-throws. Martin made just 63 percent of his freebies while Evans converted a pathetic 43 percent of his shots from the charity stripe.
A serviceable backup big man is of tremendous importance to a contender nowadays.
If the Clippers are to compete again next season, they will need a big man that can rebound, defend and knock down his free-throws at a high rate.
Elton Brand would be a perfect fit for this team.
Despite underachieving years in Philadelphia, Brand still has the game to win-over Clipper fans in a second stint in LA.
He can knock down the open shot, do work in the paint, rebound at a high rate and defend the low-post.
Preparing to be amnestied by the Sixers, will Brand get a bid from the Clippers?
Whoever they decide to bring in needs to be capable of impacting the game on both sides of the ball.
A Consistent Sharp Shooter
During the postseason the Spurs and Heat demonstrated the benefits of having a capable sharp shooter.
The result was the Spurs knocking down an incredible 41.6 percent of their shots from downtown.
Without the efficient shooting of the Heat's perimeter players, Miami may not have gotten past the Thunder in the finals.
Despite having a roster that features highly regarded sharp shooters, the Clippers may have catered more to reputation than to production in deciding player personnel.
A career 35 percent shooter from three point land, Jamal Crawford won't be the answer next season. Billups is only a career 39 percent shooter from downtown, and Randy Foye's career 37 percent shooting clip from distance is not nearly enough to put him in the category of sharp shooter.
The Clippers don't necessarily need a player of the caliber of Ray Allen. Rather they need an effective shooter like a Kyle Korver or a J.J. Redick that is capable of bolstering their offensive production.
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