Connect with us

NBA

NBA PM: What’s Wrong with the Clippers?

The Clippers had the best record in the NBA and were undefeated on the road until this rough trip.

Cody Taylor

Published

on

What’s Wrong with the Clippers?

It’s been quite the week for the L.A. Clippers. The team left the confines of Hollywood over a week ago to start a six-game road trip and the results haven’t been good.

The team began the road trip with a perfect 6-0 record away from home and looked to be playing great basketball. That record improved to 7-0 with a win over the Dallas Mavericks last Wednesday, but the Clippers have since dropped their last three games in a row.

Over the course of the first month of the season, the Clippers established themselves as one of the best teams in the league and they have been fun to watch. The group has been healthy so far while getting huge contributions from its star players Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.

The Clippers are the only team in the league ranked inside the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency. However, the team’s defense has looked much different on this road trip. After allowing 97.7 points per 100 possessions prior to the trip, that number has jumped up to 103.9 points per 100 possessions over the last four games.

Perhaps even more troubling than the defense has been the team’s offense. They were scoring 111.1 points per 100 possessions before the trip and have scored just 99.8 points per 100 possessions since hitting the road. They managed just 70 points on Sunday against an Indiana Pacers team that was missing Paul George.

Of course, there was also head coach Doc Rivers’ outburst on Tuesday night against the Brooklyn Nets that ended with Rivers getting tossed from the game after picking up two technical fouls. The Clippers lost that game to the Nets in double-overtime and allowed Nets guard Sean Kilpatrick to score 31 of his 38 points after the third quarter.

During the incident, Rivers was perhaps as animated as a head coach has been on the sidelines in quite some time. He was upset over a foul that was called on Brandon Bass near the end of the first overtime period. Following that foul, he was assessed a technical for crossing over midcourt. A second technical foul was given to him due to language directed toward a referee.

“I thought it was an awful tech,” Rivers said after the game. “Honestly, I think you guys know why the tech was called. The official, who had nothing to do with the play, thought I was yelling at Lauren [Holtkamp] and I wasn’t. We weren’t. She said I was right and let’s walk back. We weren’t even arguing. It was the damndest tech to give at that time.”

Rivers’ ejection was the exclamation point on a bad loss. Coming into that game, the Nets had lost seven games in a row and suffered a 127-95 loss to the Clippers just two weeks prior. In Tuesday night’s game, the Clippers were up by as many as 18 points in the third quarter and then stopped executing plays. The Nets outscored the Clippers 34-21 in the fourth quarter.

“I thought we lost our respect for the game,” Rivers said. “I thought we lost our humility. I thought we were playing great. We got up. We got cool. We stopped moving the ball. We went ShowTime and I think when that happens you deserve to lose the game. I really do. Champions have humility throughout the game and I thought we lost that as a group.

“Tonight, we got ‘good’ all of a sudden. We were walking around like we’ve done something and that bothers me because we haven’t done crap. For us to walk around against a team, to me, that is playing their hearts out every night to just win one game, and for us to walk around like we’ve done something, it bothers me on a basketball level. I didn’t like it.”

If there is any good to come from the outing against the Nets, it’s that this can be a learning experience for the Clippers moving forward. Teams hit rough patches throughout the season and learn how to fight through them and get better as a unit. However, this rough patch may have come a little bit earlier than the team would have liked.

While the past week hasn’t gone the way the Clippers would have liked, it’s entirely too early to hit the panic button. Given their early-season success, they have demonstrated that they can score with the best teams in the league and defend at a high level. L.A. has too much experience to not be able to bounce back from this rough patch.

It seems inevitable that they’ll be able to get back on track, but their game tonight against the Cleveland Cavaliers will be a tough challenge. The Clippers won’t be coming into the game playing their best, so it’ll be on the players to snap out of their funk and return to playing complete basketball for all four quarters.

Jason Kidd Discusses Triple-Doubles

Milwaukee Bucks head coach Jason Kidd knows a thing or two about triple-doubles. Over his 19 years in the NBA, Kidd recorded 107 triple-doubles, which ranks third-highest in league history. His 107 trail only Magic Johnson’s 138 and Oscar Robertson’s 181.

Robertson holds the NBA record for most triple-doubles in a season with 41, which he set in the 1961-62 season. Kidd’s highest mark for a season was 12, which he accomplished twice during his career – both with the New Jersey Nets.

So far this season, there have already been 18 total triple-doubles recorded. Of those 18 triple-doubles, Oklahoma City Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook has nine of them. He’s recorded a triple-double in four straight games and has finished just one assist short of a triple-double on three other occasions.

LeBron James and James Harden each have three triple-doubles this season, while Julius Randle, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Chris Paul have each recorded one apiece. Last season, 24 players combined to record 75 triple-doubles, with Westbrook accounting for 18 of them. His 18 last season is tied for eighth-most in a season.

What Westbrook has been able to do so far this season is incredible. He’s now averaging a triple-double and is one of only five players to do so more than five games into a season. When Kidd was asked about how hard it is to do what Westbrook has done this season, it took him a few seconds to put it into words.

“It’s hard,” Kidd told Basketball Insiders. “The other thing that’s kind of interesting is no one is talking about LeBron’s 10 assists. He’s almost averaging 10 assists. What these young players are doing is incredible. It just shows where the game is and how good they really are. What Westbrook is doing is something that I would only dream about doing.”

James is averaging 23.5 points, 9.3 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game this season for the Cavaliers. While his scoring is down a bit compared to last season, his 9.3 assists and 8.1 rebounds per game are both career-highs.

James has impacted games arguably more in different areas, as he’s recognized he doesn’t need to be the team’s leading scorer with Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and others on the team.

“A lot of it, it happens,” Kidd said. “You’ll find yourself, your imprint being involved in the game is when you can do things like that. You’re doing something right. You’re putting yourself in the position to win a ballgame. That’s what [they are] doing.”

Westbrook and the Thunder return to action on Sunday against the New Orleans Pelicans, where he’ll be looking for his fifth straight triple-double.

Cody Taylor is an NBA writer in his fourth season with Basketball Insiders, covering the NBA and NCAA out of Orlando and Miami.

Advertisement




Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

NBA

Life After Philadelphia is Just Fine For Turner

Evan Turner goes 1-on-1 with Basketball Insiders to explain how life in Philadelphia shaped the rest of his career.

Dennis Chambers

Published

on

Once upon a time, Evan Turner was the second overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft, and the next man in line to save the Philadelphia 76ers.

After finishing his junior year at Ohio State University, Turner declared for the draft and eventually was taken directly after John Wall by the Sixers. Turner joined a team that won just 27 games the year before, but had more than a few promising young pieces.

Andre Iguodala, a former Sixers top-10 pick in his own right, was the oldest of the core bunch, at just 27. After him, the likes of Jrue Holiday, Lou Williams, Thaddeus Young, and Spencer Hawes were all under the age of 24. All in all, adding a No. 2 pick to that mix looked to set up the Sixers for years to come.

For the most part, the beginning of Turner’s career was successful. After making the playoffs his rookie season and losing in the first round to the Miami HEAT four games to one, the Sixers pushed the Boston Celtics to seven games in the Eastern Conference semifinals during the 2011-12 season.

Turner started 12 of those 13 playoff games during his second season, averaging 11.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.5 points per game.

Just as Turner seemed to be coming into his own, though, the tides in Philadelphia began to turn, and turn quickly.

His third year in the league, and first year as a full-time starter, came and went for Turner. He posted decent numbers. His 13.6 points per game were second only to Holiday. He was third on the team in assists and sixth in rebounds. In the midst of his fourth season, while averaging a career-high 17.4 points, Turner was traded to the Indiana Pacers.

Newly hired president of basketball operations, Sam Hinkie, had a plan in place that didn’t include Turner. It didn’t include Holiday either, as he was shipped off during the 2013 draft for Nerlens Noel and future first-round pick.

Just as the Sixers were becoming “his” team, Turner was sent packing to a new zip code. In his mind, he never got a fair shake at trying to the be the guy he was drafted to be in Philadelphia.

“I don’t think I really ever had a chance to shoulder it, to tell you the truth,” Turner told Basketball Insiders. “I didn’t start my first two years, but numbers wise I thought I did well. Nobody averaged more than 13 or 14. We were a great unit. My third year, my first year starting, I thought I did pretty well for a first-year starter. We missed the playoffs, which is always tough. Within the next year, it got blown up.”

Turner reiterated that in his mind, he wasn’t allowed the leash to become a franchise guy. But it wasn’t all for naught in Philadelphia.

“Honest opinion, I don’t think I ever fully got the chance,” Turner said. “But I got the chance to do a lot of great things. Learn how to win, learn how to defend, learn how to prepare.”

Since leaving Philly, Turner’s role in the NBA has shifted from a potential franchise player to a serviceable role man on a playoff caliber team.

Last summer, Turner inked a four-year, $70 million deal with the Portland Trail Blazers after his stint with Indiana, and then two years with the Boston Celtics. Beyond the years in Philly, Turner’s life in the Association has been kind to him.

“It’s been fine,” Turner said. “On the up and up, I was fortunate to make the playoffs every year since leaving Philly. I made the playoffs two out of three, or three out of the four years that I was here. It’s cool, it’s a blessing. Healthy, stable, and living the dream.”

On Wednesday night, Turner returned to Philadelphia and the Wells Fargo Center to square off against his old team. Nowadays, this version of the Sixers is much different than the one he left behind. A process that nearly began with jettisoning Turner to the Pacers feels near completion, and the energy Turner once felt on the court in a Sixers uniform is returning in full force.

When walking around the building, this time as a visitor, Turner takes appreciation in seeing some old faces. The guys “behind the scenes” as he put it, always are welcoming. Brett Brown, Turner’s former coach, never fails to show him love, and the arena in South Philly, Turner says, is always a great reminder of where he came from.

Turner thinks the process that was kicked off with getting rid of him and his core teammates is promising, though.

“It’s turning around,” Turner said.  “Just off the first eye glance, I know Coach Brown can coach his butt off. Even the fact that they’re getting up a real practice facility says a lot. Obviously on the court, the energy. You see on tv before, it’s more sold out. When you see the Sixers sometimes it would be a joke, in regards to how many games they lost, or whatever. But now it’s kind of like you’re going to see some great highlights, you’re watching a lot of energy from the crowd and things. I’m happy for them. It seems like it’s trending in the right direction.”

It wasn’t always rainbows and sunshine for Turner in Philadelphia; he would be reminded of that as he was greeted with boo’s from the crowd when he checked into the game for the first time Wednesday night. The city of brotherly love has a reputation that doesn’t necessarily precede its name.

“Much is given, much is expected,” he said. “One thing is, when you get kind of labeled as whatever, you kind of get tagged for the most critical stuff. I saw how sometimes Iguodala would get blamed for everything, and then I kind of moved into that. I went from the cute little kid, to moving into that responsibility. Then MCW (Michael Carter-Williams) went from that position. It’s just kind of, you know, part of the game.”

The harshness of the city, and Turner’s situation particularly, helped guide him through his career after Philadelphia. In Turner’s words, “The only way to go from here, in a certain sense, is up.”

Portland’s sixth man has lived a long, lucrative life in the NBA, even if it didn’t go exactly how it was initially planned to. Turner was quick to point out that any time he heard someone complain during his travels around the league, at least they weren’t facing the wrath of Philadelphia.

“Going into new situations, people are like, ‘Hey they do this or they do that,’ and I’m like are y’all serious,” Turner said with a smile. “Go to Philly and see what they’ll do to y’all.”

Maybe his time spent in Philadelphia didn’t turn out the way fans had hoped, but Turner found out quickly there was a spot for him in the league as a former second overall pick, and that his career has gone just the way it was supposed to.

“I’m a firm believer in everything is supposed to happen how it’s supposed to happen,” Turner said. “Regardless of which, it’s a blessing.”

Continue Reading

Mock Drafts

NBA AM: The First 2018 NBA Mock Draft

With College Basketball getting underway and things starting to get interesting in the standings of the NBA, what better time to drop a 2018 Mock Draft than on Thanksgiving.

Steve Kyler

Published

on

The Thanksgiving 2018 NBA Mock Draft

With College Basketball getting underway and things starting to get interesting in the standings of the NBA, what better time to drop a 2018 Mock Draft than on Thanksgiving.

So with that in mind here is my first Mock Draft of the 2018 Season, look for more of these are we march on (and hopefully you like the new Mock Draft table design.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are owed the Brooklyn Nets first-round pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade this summer.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Miami HEAT’s first-round pick as part of the Goran Dragic trade in 2015, it is top-seven protected and would convey to Phoenix based on the current standings.

The Phoenix Suns are owed the Milwaukee Bucks first-round pick as part of the Eric Bledsoe trade. The pick only conveys if the Bucks pick lands between the 11th and 16th pick, which based on the standings today would convey.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are owed the Oklahoma City Thunder’s first-round pick as part of the Ricky Rubio trade this summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Minnesota Timberwolves first round pick as part of the Adreian Payne trade in 2015. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Brooklyn Nets are owed the Toronto Raptors first round pick as part of the DeMarre Carroll salary dump trade this past summer. The pick is lottery protected and based on the current standings would convey.

The Atlanta Hawks are owed the Houston Rockets first round pick as part of a three-team deal with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets involving Danilo Gallinari and taking back Jamal Crawford and Diamond Stone. The pick is top-three protected and based on the current standings would convey.

Check out our Top 100 NBA Draft Prospects http://www.basketballinsiders.com/top-100-nba-draft-prospects/

More Twitter: Make sure you are following all of our guys on Twitter to ensure you are getting the very latest from our team: @stevekylerNBA, @MikeAScotto, @LangGreene, @EricPincus, @joelbrigham, @TommyBeer, @MokeHamilton , @jblancartenba, @Ben_Dowsett, @SpinDavies, @BuddyGrizzard, @JamesB_NBA, @DennisChambers_, and @Ben__Nadeau .

Continue Reading

NBA

NBA PM: Lopez Leading On And Off The Court

Brook Lopez has been a valuable addition to the Los Angeles Lakers, both on and off the court.

Ben Nadeau

Published

on

In spite of the ongoing media circus, an inherently tougher conference and a roster that features just five players with more than three years of NBA experience, the Los Angeles Lakers are 8-10. Naturally, that won’t be good enough to reach the postseason in the West, but it’s better than most expected the young Lakers to fare. Their early season successes can be chalked up to their glut of budding talent — Julius Randle, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, among others — but there’s one other major driving force at hand here and his name is Brook Lopez.

Following years of will-they, won’t-they rumors, Lopez was acquired in a shocking blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets just prior to this year’s draft. The Lakers were eager to get out from under Timofey Mozgov’s lengthy, albatross-sized contract, so they packaged him with the once-troubled D’Angelo Russell, shipping the pair off for Lopez and the No. 27 overall pick. The deal was largely made with financial implications in mind, but the initial returns on Lopez have been a massive win for the Lakers as well.

Although Lopez is currently logging a career-low in minutes (24.3), he still often leads the way for Los Angeles — like the night he effortlessly dropped 34 points and 10 rebounds on 6-for-9 from three-point range against his former franchise. Through 18 games, Lopez is averaging just 14.8 points and 5.1 rebounds — a scoring mark that ranks only above his rookie season with the New Jersey Nets in 2008-09 — but his statistical impact is key on this inconsistent roster nonetheless.

But beyond that, it seems as if some of Lopez’s biggest contributions this season have come off the court — just ask Kyle Kuzma and Ivica Zubac.

“[Lopez] has taught me how to be a professional,” Kuzma told Basketball Insiders prior to their game against the Boston Celtics earlier this month. “He’s one of the first guys in the gym, one of the last ones to leave.”

Lopez, who has carried his fair share of incredibly poor teams in the past — and often with a smile — is in the final year of the contract he signed back in 2015. His expiring deal worth $22.6 million made Lopez the perfect acquisition for a Lakers team hoping to shed cap space before the upcoming free agency period — where, allegedly, LeBron James and Paul George are both targets.

For a 7-foot center that just added a three-point shot to his game and knocked down 134 of them last season alone, Lopez may be one of the greatest trade afterthoughts in recent memory. The Lakers will likely finish in the lottery rather than the postseason, but Lopez — along with veterans Andrew Bogut, Corey Brewer and Luol Deng — have been a helpful presence for the slew of young Lakers as they adjust to professional basketball.

“They’re all great — they’ve been there, done that,” Kuzma said. “They have a lot of experience in this league, so it’s good to learn from those guys because they’ve played 10, 13 years and that’s what I want to do.”

Kuzma, of course, was selected with that No. 27 overall pick that the Nets sent to Los Angeles in the trade, and he’s been red-hot ever since. Following an impressive combine, summer league and preseason, Kuzma jumped into the starting lineup after Larry Nance Jr. fractured his hand just eight games into the campaign. Although the Rookie of the Year battle has been dominated by the Philadelphia 76ers’ Ben Simmons so far, Kuzma — averaging 16.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game — has emerged as a strong runner-up candidate.

For Zubac, however, it’s been a slower start to his NBA career but with Lopez, he says, things have gotten easier.

“The whole summer, I worked on my three-point shot,” Zubac told Basketball Insiders. “But also [I worked on my] post offense too, that’s what [Lopez] is good at. I’m really focusing my game around the post, so that’s where I’m trying to learn.”

Last year, Zubac was a popular late-season member of head coach Luke Walton’s rotation and he finished his rookie year averaging 7.5 points and 4.2 rebounds in just 16 minutes per game. Unfortunately, the new arrivals and recent emergences have limited Zubac to just 10 total minutes over four appearances in 2017-18. Still, Lopez gives Zubac a mentor worth modeling his game after, even if it’s at the expense of real experience this season.

To get Zubac on the floor, the center has spent time with the South Bay Lakers, Los Angeles’ G-League affiliate, as of late. In two games, Zubac has averaged 21 points and 10 rebounds on 73 percent shooting from the field. Despite the lack of playing time, Zubac was more than happy to praise not only Lopez but the efforts of the other aforementioned veterans too.

“I can learn a lot from them and they help me play my game,” Zubac said. “Whoever’s on the court, whoever I’m playing with, I just try to learn as much as I can from them.”

Ultimately, though, it all comes back to Lopez.

Again, Lopez has averaged a career-low in minutes, but his contributions have been crucial in the Lakers’ overall standing thus far. In the games that Lopez has played less than 21 minutes, the Lakers are 0-5; but when he plays more than 30, the team is 3-1. On top of that, the Lakers are 5-1 when Lopez hits two or more three-pointers in a game as well. That sample size is still certainly small, but it’s nice indicator of Lopez’s inherent on-court impact, even when he’s not carrying the team on his shoulders.

“[He makes life] a lot easier for me,” Kuzma said. “He’s one of the most established scorers in the league and his career average is, like, 20 [points] a game. You can always count on him to be there every single night.”

While the Lakers can plan for a dream offseason haul involving James, George and others, they’ll have a tough decision facing them in July. Whether he’s efficiently stretching the floor, finishing off assists from Ball or setting the tone in an inexperienced locker room, Lopez has been quite the addition for Los Angeles.

This summer, Lopez enters unrestricted free agency and will likely garner offers outside of the Lakers’ pay range considering their big plans. If the Lakers decide to focus elsewhere, another team will reap the rewards. Until then, the youthful core in Los Angeles will benefit from having Lopez train and educate them each day.

“[Lopez] takes care of his body, he stays low-key and is never in trouble,” Kuzma said. “He’s the type of professional I want to be.”

Whether this is just a one-year detour in his extensively underrated career or the start of a great, new partnership, Lopez’s arrival in Los Angeles has been a huge success already. But as far as role models go for both Kuzma and Zubac, there are few choices better than Brook Lopez — both on and off the court.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending Now