Winners and Losers from LA Clippers' Week 3 of NBA Preseason
Even while integrating a new motion offense and a complex defensive scheme, Rivers seems to be maximizing the athleticism, playmaking and shooting potential of his roster. With the NBA regular season rapidly approaching, it is useful to take a look at the major winners and losers from Week 3.
We will take a look at preseason performances and implications for the regular season. First we will look at three losers and then three winners.
Loser: Brandon Davies
The former BYU big man Brandon Davies will not be on the regular-season roster come opening night.
Shortly after the Clips' preseason game against the Denver Nuggets, LA released him. As part of the team’s summer league roster as well, Davies had started to play out of position as Rivers put him on the wing.
Given the dearth of productive backup big men on the roster, Davies had a slight chance of making the team. Perhaps Maalik Wayns' knee injury, which would have fully guaranteed his contract had he been released, contributed to the decision to cut Davies.
Loser: J.J. Redick
After sitting out the Clippers’ first six games of the preseason while recovering from injury, J.J. Redick made his Lob City debut in a 103-99 victory over the Utah Jazz.
He looked like a spacer and sharpshooter, as he dropped 14 points on 3-of-7 shooting from long range. Although his overall 33 percent shooting on the night was uncharacteristic, more play with the starters should yield better numbers.
Nevertheless, he might be considered one of the losers of the preseason for the Clippers. Although the preseason is a series of exhibition games, the turnover of this roster could have benefited from having the regular-season starting lineup intact. Redick should make a quick transition with the starters, but more games under his belt before opening night would have aided the squad.
Loser: Antawn Jamison
Signed as a free agent from the co-tenant Los Angeles Lakers, Antawn Jamison has yet to get into a groove since joining LAC. Age and regression might be starting to affect his game, as the career 18.8 PPG scorer dropped six points combined in the Clippers’ preseason games against the Nuggets and the Jazz.
Playing 28 minutes against Denver, Jamison was somewhat of a box score no-show, scoring just two points on 1-of-5 shooting. Rotation trends seem to indicate that Byron Mullens might be the first big off the bench to spell either Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan.
Still, Jamison should add a valuable veteran presence.
Winner: Darren Collison
Darren Collison’s preseason performances have caused the Clippers faithful to start to forget about the enthralling play of former backup Eric Bledsoe.
His preseason play has indicated that he will serve every bit the part of serviceable backup point guard to Chris Paul. In the Clips' overtime victory against the Nuggets, he scored 27 points on 10-of-13 from the field.
The UCLA product’s 27 points were second only to the 40 points scored by Paul and part of a blitz that saw the LA guards score 80 of Lob City’s 118 total points.
Collison was his consistent self against the Jazz, scoring 15 points to go with four assists in 24 minutes of action. Although his on-ball defense is still suspect, there is no denying his skill set on offense. His signing might have been one of the most underrated moves of the offseason.
Winner: DeAndre Jordan
DeAndre Jordan continues to play with inspired confidence and awareness on defense.
Although he is no Kevin Garnett, he looks like he is capable of anchoring the Clips’ Thibodeau-esque defense. He has 21 blocks through the Clippers’ first six preseason games. For those keeping track, that is an average of 3.5 blocks per game.
Jordan will not keep that number up, but it indicates that he has been in the right place at the right time. He was caught off guard a couple of times in the win over the Nuggets, which resulted in six fouls. He will need to stay on the court more in the regular season.
Given his tremendous athleticism, his challenge is really between the ears. Spending more time with Rivers and working more closely with the starters should result in an even more improved defensive presence from him.
The Clippers have not played any teams with a dominant big man in the preseason, and evaluating how Jordan performs against the likes of Tim Duncan and Dwight Howard will be telling. Nonetheless, his preseason performances could yield a promising regular-season campaign.
Winner: Blake Griffin
In limited minutes against the Nuggets and the Jazz, Blake Griffin looked like an All-NBA power forward.
Stuffing the stat sheet against Denver, he notched 17 points, eight rebounds and five assists. His five dimes were second only to the Point God Chris Paul, and his plus-25 was a game high.
In Rivers’ motion offense, Griffin looks comfortable operating on the elbow or the block. His facilitation has been off the charts, and his improved passing game will continue to open up the floor for shooters like Redick and Jared Dudley.
His three turnovers against the Jazz were more a product of forced passes than lazy plays. Entering his fourth NBA season, Griffin continues to develop different facets of his game.
The pyrotechnics have not stopped either. Griffin’s posterizing of Jazz rookie Rudy Gobert kept BG as must-see TV.
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