Time for the Clippers to undergo "The Process"
Photo c/o the author
I remember being in LA on January 4, 2015 feeling excited as ever. It had always been a dream of mine to watch my favorite NBA team play live. And on that day, I got my chance as the Los Angeles Clippers played host to the Philadelphia 76ers at the famous Staples Center.
But a whole lot has changed since that moment I saw Blake Griffin dunk on Nerlens Noel en route to a 127-91 win. Personally, the saddest development is that I no longer watch the team I looked forward to seeing on that fateful day in LA.
After another disappointing first round exit in the Playoffs last season, Chris Paul left and so did JJ Redick. Griffin, who’s my favorite NBA player, decided to stay, signing a massive five-year $173 million contract. When that happened, I immediately thought to myself, “Well, I guess I’m sticking with the Clippers too.”
My excitement was restored when Griffin hit the game-winning triple at the buzzer on the road in Portland to give the Clippers a 4-0 start to the 2017-2018 NBA season. Unfortunately, that would be the last significant highlight of the team for the year as they would go on to lose 14 of their next 18 games. The worst part is that they also lost Griffin for two months due to sprained MCL on his left knee.
Prior to losing their franchise player to injury yet again, the Clippers already lost Patrick Beverley for the season after having surgery to repair the lateral meniscus on his right knee. Milos Teodosic has not played since being helped off the court due to a plantar fascia injury on his left foot suffered on October 21, while Danilo Gallinari has also been out of action since November 5 due to a strained left glute.
And it’s not just the players’ health that the Clippers are dealing with but also the trade rumors surrounding DeAndre Jordan. Should Jordan, the last remaining starter of the “Lob City” era get shipped out of LA, the Clippers will have hit rock bottom.
Right now, the Clippers are ranked 10th in the stacked Western Conference with an 8-14 record. As a fan of this team since Griffin won Rookie of the Year in the 2010-2011 season, I painfully admit that it looks like the Clippers’ streak of making the Playoffs will finally come to an end after six years.
So, what should the organization do now? If you ask me, my answer would be simple: Build around Blake.
I know, I know. It’s not exactly a fresh new formula. And it’s not like the Clippers haven’t been doing that. You know what sounds even crazier? I actually think that Griffin getting hurt might turn out to be a blessing in disguise.
Having Griffin and Jordan on the same team will always make the Clippers competitive. But, with Griffin on the shelf and no more Paul to turn Jordan into a juggernaut, Doc Rivers is going to lose his voice completely, trying desperately to squeeze every ounce of talent from his depleted roster just to get a win every single night. It’s just not going to happen. What I’m saying is by the time Griffin is healthy enough to return, the Clippers will already be out of the Playoff hunt. And when that time comes, the team will also be in a position to tank.
There is also a possible scenario where Jordan is no longer a Clipper by the time Griffin gets back. Jordan holds a player option for next season, which means he can become a free agent. If he decides to stay, the Clippers are a superstar away from contending once again in the West. But, if Jordan gets traded to rumored suitors like Cleveland, Milwaukee or Toronto, the Clippers should seriously consider tanking.
Since drafting Griffin as the number one overall selection in 2009, the Clippers have only had one top 10 pick since. They drafted Al-Farouq Aminu the following season at number eight and that turned out to be a mistake, because Gordon Hayward and Paul George were still available.
As early as now, the Clippers should already look into potential draft prospects because with the way things are going, come June, they will be in line for a high draft pick. It could even be a top five pick if they let go of Jordan and take their sweet time with Griffin’s rehab.
Until my favorite NBA player returns, I’m not watching the Clippers at all. Ironically, I get hyped up watching the 76ers play nowadays because they are finally relevant again after three years of tanking. I guess the two teams that I watched live at the Staples Center almost two years ago have switched roles. The LA Clippers are now about to undergo “The Process”. And like Philly did, Clipper Nation has got to trust it too.
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