LA Clippers: Final 2011 Report Cards for Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon and Co.

Ben TeitelbaumCorrespondent IIMay 27, 2011

LA Clippers: Final 2011 Report Cards for Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon and Co.

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    http://bleacherreport.com/gallery/New+Orleans+Hornets+v+Los+Angeles+Clippers/page/7#page/64
    http://bleacherreport.com/gallery/New+Orleans+Hornets+v+Los+Angeles+Clippers/page/7#page/64

    Considering the positivity surrounding the Los Angeles Clippers' performance in 2010-11, you would think Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon possibly led them to a winning record, or perhaps the brink of the playoffs.

    While there are legitimate reasons for optimism—the Clippers do have a seemingly bright future and they did play almost .500 ball after going 3-15 out of the gates—let's not forget that they only won 32 games this past season. They obviously still have significant developing and maturing to do.

    Here, I'm handing out final grades to every member of the Clips, from the star student to the class clown, to see who has passed and who should drop out. 

    (Note, I'm only grading players who finished the year with the Clippers. Guys who were traded or released, such as Baron Davis, all receive F's or Incompletes.) 

Blake Griffin

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 20:  Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers and the Western Conference dunks the ball in the second half in the 2011 NBA All-Star Game at Staples Center on February 20, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Blake Griffin, the unanimous Rookie of the Year, was everything the Clippers could have dreamed of and more. 

    Early on, he erased doubts about the health of the knee that caused him to miss all of 2009-10 and displayed the capacity to be a superstar for the next decade. 

    Blake was explosive and efficient, stuffing both stat sheets and stands. Averaging 22.5 points, 12.1 rebounds, 3.8 assists, and 51 percent shooting, Griffin had perhaps the best rookie season since Shaq’s 1992-93 campaign. 

    Not only that, but he made the Clippers dangerous and watchable every night. There is now hope for the other franchise in Los Angeles, and most of it rests on Blake’s broad shoulders. 

    What’s scary is that Blake still has room to grow. When his jump shot becomes more consistent and his defense improves, watch out league. 

    Grade: A+

Eric Gordon

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 12:  Eric Gordon #10 of the Los Angeles Clippers scores on a layup against the Miami Heat at Staples Center on January 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloadin
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Although he was limited to 56 games played due to an injured right wrist, Eric Gordon had a breakout year. 

    He emerged as a bigtime scorer, creative playmaker, tenacious perimeter defender, and potential star. Only 22, Gordon put up 22.3 points per game, and he got buckets in a variety of ways, from deep threes to strong forays to the rim. 

    Gordon also demonstrated the desire to be “the man” when the game was on the line. He wants to take important shots, unafraid of the spotlight or the moment, a necessary mentality for a lead guard. 

    Gordon still needs to work on his decision-making, and he needs to rebound better (2.9 per game) for a guy with his athleticism. 

    EJ, as he is called, is Robin to Blake’s Batman, and the duo will lead the Clippers to the playoffs before you know it.

    Grade: A-

DeAndre Jordan

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    BOSTON, MA - MARCH 09:  DeAndre Jordan #9 of the Los Angeles Clippers encourages his teammates during a time out in the final minutes of the game against the Boston Celtics on March 9, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Los Angeles Clippe
    Elsa/Getty Images

    After Chris Kaman’s injury unexpectedly thrust him into the starting lineup in only the ninth game of the season, DeAndre Jordan wasn’t exactly a revelation, but he was definitely a pleasant surprise. 

    Also young and explosive, and with great size and length, the 22-year-old had his ups and downs, especially on the offensive end. He is still extremely raw, with few discernible moves, but he does finish well at the cup, shooting 69 percent for the year.

    Jordan also became arguably the Clippers’ best defender. In only 26 minutes per game, Jordan was 10th in the league in blocked shots at 1.8, while pulling down over seven rebounds nightly. If he could learn to avoid foul trouble, Jordan could be a true defensive force. 

    Is he the center of the future? Debatable. But with Jordan's upside, he wouldn’t be a bad option. 

    Grade: B

Eric Bledsoe

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 01:  Eric Bledsoe #12 of the Los Angeles Clippers dribbles against the San Antonio Spurs at the Staples Center on December 1, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downlo
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Eric Bledsoe, the rookie out of Kentucky, was, like DeAndre Jordan, prematurely forced to start when Baron Davis was sidelined only three games into the season.

    As it is with most inexperienced point guards, the 21-year-old struggled at times, especially with decision-making, three point shot, and ball security. 

    That said, Bledsoe showed immense potential. He is extremely athletic (lightning-fast, cat-quick, surprisingly strong, and quite explosive), clever with the rock, and he plays with enthusiasm, passion, and competitive fire.   

    Bledsoe is not there yet, and he really needs to work on his jump shot, but he has a bright future. 

    Grade: B-

Mo Williams

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    BOSTON, MA - MARCH 09:  Mo Williams #25 of the Los Angeles Clippers celebrates the win on March 9, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Los Angeles Clippers defeated the Boston Celtics 108-103. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Mo Williams was acquired in the midseason deal that unloaded Baron Davis and his fat contract to the Cleveland Cavaliers

    So how did Mo perform after escaping the woeful ex-LeBroners? Eh, decent, fine, uninspiring. Yet not at all poor. 

    The Clippers went 11-11 with Williams at the helm, and he posted respectable numbers: 15.2 points and 5.6 assists. He doesn’t really deserve any particular credit for those victories, but he also doesn’t deserve blame for the losses. 

    With LA reshaping its roster and looking to go young, Williams is doubtful in GM Neil Olshey’s long-term plans. 

    Grade: B-

Al-Farouq Aminu

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 07:  Al-Farouq Aminu #3 of the Los Angeles Clippers drives to the basket against Eduardo Najera #21 of the Charlotte Bobcats during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 7, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: Us
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Al-Farouq Aminu was drafted eighth overall last summer because of potential, not ability. 

    The rangy small forward from Wake Forest is talented but raw. He has outstanding ball-handling skills for his size, a nose for the ball, and solid defensive tools. 

    On the other hand, he has no jump shot whatsoever—39 percent FG, 32 percent three-point—and can be careless with the ball. 

    The season was a bit of a roller coaster for Aminu, who interspersed impressive contests with sloppy outings. 

    Aminu is only 20 years old, and the Clippers know that it will take time for him to develop. They just hope that he eventually gets it together. 

    Grade: C

Randy Foye

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    BOSTON, MA - MARCH 09:  Randy Foye #4 of the Los Angeles Clippers grabes the rebound before Jeff Green #8 of the Boston Celtics on March 9, 2011 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downl
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Randy Foye was signed last summer to be the combo guard spark off the bench in the mold of, for example, Jamal Crawford. 

    He wasn’t an abject failure, but neither was he a rousing success. If anything, Foye was inconsistent. 

    He missed 19 games due to injury and shot only 39 percent from the field, 33 percent from behind the arc. On the other hand, he had several huge outings, such as a 32-point eruption against the Boston Celtics

    Ultimately, Foye did not quite live up to the expectations the front office held. 

    Grade: C-

Ryan Gomes

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 12:  Ryan Gomes #15 of the Los Angeles Clippers reacts after his basket against the Miami Heat at Staples Center on January 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downl
    Harry How/Getty Images

    Back in August, ESPN Los Angeles’ Kevin Arnovitz wrote an article (found here) lauding Ryan Gomes and claiming he could be the solution to the Clippers’ invariable small forward issues. 

    Well, some pundits aren’t as expert as you might think, for Gomes did not produce as advertised. Gomes was consistently the Clips’ weak link, and it’s difficult to point out his useful contributions. 

    He was supposed to be a good shooter; only 34 percent from downtown. 

    He was supposed to be a solid rebounder; only 3.3 per game. 

    He was supposed to be a tough defender; hardly any effect on that side of the floor. 

    The Clippers’ search for a genuine starting small forward continues. 

    Grade: D+

Craig Smith

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 03:  Craig Smith #1 of the Los Angeles Clippers shoots over Serge Ibaka #9 of the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center on November 3, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. The Clippers won 107-92.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly ack
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    When he wasn’t hampered by a herniated disk, Craig Smith was a serviceable reserve. 

    Built in the Charles Barkley mold, undersized but exceedingly wide, Smith was a change of pace as a bullish power forward who played with extreme physicality. 

    Unfortunately, he appeared to have an inflated sense of his abilities, and he often tried to do too much on the court. 

    Smith can be effective ninth or 10th guy in a rotation, but you don’t want to count on him.

    Grade: D+

Chris Kaman

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 26:  Chris Kaman #35 of the Los Angeles Clippers shoots over Chris Johnson #86 of he Boston Celtics at Staples Center on February 26, 2011  in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that,
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    An All-Star in 2010, Chris Kaman’s season was a disaster. 

    Beset by injury and ineffectiveness, the center had little impact on the Clippers’ season, and word on the street is that he’s probably headed elsewhere soon, as his contract expires next summer. 

    Kaman played in only 32 games, averaging 12.4 points (on weaksauce 47 percent shooting) and 7 rebounds. 

    The Griffin-Kaman combination was supposed to create one of the best frontcourts in the NBA, but those two might be incompatible pieces. And Kaman is clearly more expendable. 

    Grade: D

Jamario Moon

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 07:  Jamario Moon #8 of the Los Angeles Clippers tries to stop Shaun Livingston #2 of the Charlotte Bobcats during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 7, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina. NOTE TO USER: User expressly ackn
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Also obtained from Cleveland midseason, Jamario Moon played about 15 minutes per game in 19 contests. 

    In his limited time, he did limited things, never scoring double digits or making much of a difference. He’s a mediocre role player who is useful in the right situation. 

    However, he never really fit into the Clippers’ scheme. 

    Grade: D

Ike Diogu

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 2:   Ike Diogu #50 of  the Los Angeles Clippers dunks against the Chicago Bulls at Staples Center on February 2, 2011  in Los Angeles, California. The Bulls won 106-88.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that,
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    There were a couple of months, middle of December through middle of February, in which Ike Diogu was filling in for the injured Craig Smith and producing almost exactly the same amount. 

    When Smith returned to the court, Diogu returned to the bench. So much for what the coaches think of him. 

    The former lottery pick has had moments of success during his four-year career, although his tenure with the Clippers doesn’t stand out.

    Grade: D

Brian Cook

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    DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 25:  Head coach Vinny Del Negro and Brian Cook #34 of the Los Angeles Clippers at American Airlines Center on January 25, 2011 in Dallas, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using t
    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Brian Cook is almost not worth discussion. The 6’9" long range gunner has never had interest in rebounding or defense, so he has been relegated to spot duty over the years. 

    Cook played in 40 unimpressive games for the Clippers, hitting occasional threes and doing nothing else. 

    Grade: D-

Willie Warren

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    MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 29:  Willie Warren #13 of the Oklahoma Sooners moves the ball while taking on the North Carolina Tar Heels during the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional Final at the FedExForum on March 29, 2009 in Memphis, Tennessee.  (Ph
    Joe Murphy/Getty Images

    Willie Warren, the Clippers’ second round draft pick in 2010, saw the court in only 19 games, playing a grand total of 135 minutes. 

    Too small to be a shooting guard and lacking point guard skills, Warren also is not a good enough scorer or playmaker to be a microwave off the bench. Just another end-of-the-bench guy. 

    Grade: F