The Memphis Grizzlies are in L.A. today for a matinee tip-off against the Clippers. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George lead Doc Rivers’ crew in to a year where an NBA Finals is the expectation, something that has Lakers fans everywhere triggered. Yet the Clips still seem incomplete in a way...L.A. could use a big wing that can facilitate offense.
If only Memphis had one of those available for trade...
So how fun is it to have both Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on the same team as playoff conversations get serious? Legit title contention must be a blast!
You know, it is pretty fun! The Clippers themselves haven’t been consistently enjoyable to watch this year, unfortunately, but knowing that the team is a legitimate title contender again for the first time in a half decade is awesome. Kawhi Leonard has been phenomenal outside of a brief down stretch in November, and understanding that he has a whole other gear for the postseason is extremely reassuring. George has been a bit more up and down, but when he’s cooking from outside, he (and the Clippers) look nigh unstoppable.
The Clippers are one of the best teams in the NBA, and while high expectations can be a curse, it also makes every game have a bit more stakes.
What would you be willing to part with to acquire Andre Iguodala? Asking for some friends.
Probably not as much as you’d think. While Iggy is still good, he’s a soon-to-be 36 year old with tons of miles on his legs and he’s not a reliable outside shooter. He’s still a fantastic perimeter defender on the wing, but that’s something that the Clippers have plenty of right now. His playoff experience and ball-handling would be nice, but not worth a true haul. Something like Moe Harkless, Jerome Robinson, and either a heavily protected future first round pick or a couple second round picks is all I’d be willing to trade.
SITE MANAGER’S NOTE: Can I accept either of these trades on the Grizzlies behalf? No? Ok...
What player outside of the “big two” is most important to the success of the Clippers?
This is a tough question. The three players who have been marketed most by the Clippers as part of the core are Lou Williams, Pat Beverley, and Montrezl Harrell, and those are the next best players on the team. In the short term, any one of those would be a fine answer. I think I’ll go with Lou Williams – his shot creation, playmaking, and pure scoring ability will be crucial for any Clippers run. On the other hand, his defense is a point of weakness on an otherwise stalwart defensive perimeter, and if he can’t stay on the court during the playoffs the Clippers’ offense will be much weakened.
In the long term, I’d go with Landry Shamet. The second-year guard had one of the best three-point shooting seasons ever for a rookie last year, but has not been able to take much of a step forward this year. Shamet has a ton of upside, though.
Doc Rivers is one of the best coaches in the NBA. How is he using his new toys in terms of personnel?
Honestly, Doc hasn’t brought out the full toolbox yet. After getting under-talented teams without stars to top 10 offenses in the past two seasons, Doc has mostly run simple offenses to start the season. The defense has been a bit different, as Doc has utilized a zone extensively for the first time in years. That has been extremely effective, as it plays well into the Clippers length and size on the perimeter. That zone has helped the Clippers force turnovers and get out in transition, where they’ve been effective after a slow start.
The other thing Doc has done well is manage the minutes of his two stars – both Kawhi and PG have had their minutes kept in the low to mid 30s for the most part, and that will be crucial for keeping them healthy and fresh for the stretch run and the playoffs.
What are your thoughts on Memphis’ young core almost halfway through the first season of the Grizzlies rebuild?
I really like it. Jaren Jackson Jr is one of my favorite young players in the entire NBA, his combination of outside shooting, perimeter defense, and rim protection making him one of the highest upside players in the league. Ja Morant has been better than I thought his rookie season, with his ability to score while making plays for others being special for a young guard. And that’s not even going into Brandon Clarke, who fell egregiously far in the draft considering he had one of the best college seasons of all time last year, and has performed as well as draft experts expected he would.
Add in De’Anthony Melton, John Konchar, and even Dillon Brooks and Grayson Allen and you have one of the deepest and highest potential young cores in the NBA. The Grizzlies might be a year or two away, but they’re coming.
Thank you again to Robert for taking the time to participate in Five Questions! Follow him on Twitter and be sure to check out Clips Nation...until it no longer exists, and then go check out their next endeavor, 213Hoops!