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Does the Clippers new depth make any sense togethe

  • Aug 29
    The Los Angeles Clippers appear to have been pursuing two goals this summer: KeepDeAndre Jordan and add some depth. They ticked off the first in spectacular fashion and appear to have pulled off the second with a little more subtlety.The Clippers had precious little depth last season. Their starting five ofChris Paul, J.J. Redick, Matt Barnes, Blake Griffin andJordanwas the five-man unit in the league last season, by nearly 300 minutes. Four of the 50 most used lineups in the league last season belonged to the Clippers. Obviously, there's tremendous value in riding the talent of a core group, but depth increasingly becamean i sue in the playoffs. Gabriel Landeskog Jersey Their rotation only went eight-deep andthose last two were Glen Davis and Austin Rivers.MORE: | After a busy summer, gone from last season are Davis, Matt Barnes and Spencer Hawes. In to replace them are Cole Aldrich, Pablo Prigioni, Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, Wesley Johnson, Chuck Hayes andLance Stephenson. The new additions add defense, offense, andversatility. On paper, the Clippershave more talent andmore flexibility within that talent to adjust to game situations and respond to different matchups.We can see this "on paper" increase in talent fairly easily. The graph below looks at this roster and the Clippers rosters for the last three seasons, showing the progre sion frommost talented player to least talented player (with at least 500 minutes played), as measured by a box score based estimate of a player's net impact per 100 po se sions.I'm using each player's 2015 Box Plus-Minus (BPM)in drawing the 2016 line, not a projection. You can see the lines begin to deviate around the fifth best player on the team and that's where the added depth really Calvin Pickard Jersey comes into play this season. If everyone on the roster performs at the same level they did last season, this will be the Clippers most talentedroster top-to-bottom of the Doc Rivers era, a significant deviation from last season, which was their worst.However, talent and depth are not nece sarilythe same thing. Characterizingthis team as deeperrests on two a sumptions:Everyone will perform as they did last season, and the distribution of minutes will closely resemble the distribution of talent. This, unfortunately hasn't always been the case over the past few seasons.In this graph, instead of ordering the players by productivity, they're ordered by minutes played. This is a much me sier picture of the team's depth each season and shows not just the talent level, but how that talent manifests in the team's rotations.For example, Redick was the team's fifth-best player by BPM last season, but he played the third-most minutes on the team. Some of this was because of health Redick appeared in 78 games last season.Blake Griffin andBarnes, who were both more productive, appeared in 67 and 76 games because of a variety of injuries.The other i sue is positionality and a sembling a functional lineup. Hawes and Davis were both disastrous for the Mikko Rantanen Jersey Clippers last season, but they were e sentially all that was left when Griffin or Jordan were off the floor. Redick's minute total were inflated because he was one of the few reliable outside shooters and his skill-set was required to make many other player-pairings work.Thinking about that last challenge, it's easy to see how the the Clippers' depth this season could be undone. Pierce was a revelation with the Wizards last year, but his value was maximized when he played as a small-ball power forward. Smith is in a similar situation his time in Detroit reinforced that he's dramatically more productive when he's playing in the front court instead of on the wing. However, there are fewer minutes (and thus a smaller impact) to be had in the Clippers frontcourt because of Griffin and Jordan. With Barnes' departure, the Clippers have a big hole on the wing, particularly defensively. If Rivers ends up using Pierce and Andreas Martinsen Jersey Smith to fill that hole, he may not be getting the best versions of each player and po sibly negating some of their value.MORE: | In the backcourt, the Clippers added Stephenson, Prigioni and Johnson to an already threadbare rotation of Paul, Redick, Rivers and Crawford. Rivers and Crawford were both well below average by BPM last season, as were Prigioni, Johnson and Stephenson. The biggest question marks here are Stephenson and Rivers. If either (or preferrably both) players can improve this season it solves some of the problems. Stephenson can defend small forwards, and Rivers can handle back-up point guard duties.That's a big "if."Rivers has a BPM of -4.1 through the first three seasons of his career. That's the in NBA history for a player with at least 4,000 minutes played acro s their first three seasons. He had some notable performancesbut, in the aggregate, his playoff production was not that much better than his miserable regular season. Stephenson has played at a near All-Star level before, but his struggles last season were so dramatic and so consistent, the idea of him bouncing back seems far from certain.The Clippers added talent to the places where they already had talent and added question marks to their biggest holes.So, to the question of whether the Clippers are really deeper this season, the answer is, "maybe."They're deeper if Paul, Jordan Semyon Varlamov Jersey and Griffin can stay healthy (or healthier, in Griffin's case) and chew up plenty of minutes. They're deeper if Pierce can help cover for Barnes on the wing whilestaying a step ahead of Father Time, if Smith can stay away from the wing and slide back and forth between power forward and even small-ball center,if Johnson,Stephenson and Rivers can give them anything resembling competencein the backcourt.Other than health, the questions about whether this team is really deeper will be mostly answered by Doc Rivers, fitting since he's also the GM who a sembled this roster.It will be Doc'sjob to put Stephenson and Rivers in situations where they can be succe sful, steering them away from the situations where they can't. He'll be making the decisions about rotations that dictate how effective Pierce and Smith can be. One half ofof the job is done is by adding talent to the roster. Now it will be up to him to see if he can turn that talent into depth and production.