NBA First Half Awards
With the season just over halfway done, let's look at the major awards. Feel free to disagree but it's James Hardens world right now and we're just living in it.
With the NBA season just a month away and the majority of player movement being done, I’m going to start previewing the teams. Based on my projected order of the standings, we’ll start at the bottom and work towards the top rotating between East and West. Past previews will be linked as well.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander Wing (draft), Marcin Gortat C (trade), Luc Richard Mbab a Moute Wing (free agency), Jerome Robinson Wing (draft), Mike Scott PF (free agency)
Sam Dekker Forward, DeAndre Jordan C, Austin Rivers G
Offensive Rating 107.7 (8th)
Defensive Rating 107.7 (19th)
Net Rating 0.0 (19th)
True Shooting Percentage 56.4% (10th)
Assist Percentage 55.5% (24th)
Rebound Percentage 50.1% (16th)
Turnover Percentage 14.5% (18th)
Pace 101.06 (7th)
Last season with the trade of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan leaving in free agency the “big three” (four if you count JJ Reddick) is completely gone. Much maligned head coach Doc Rivers actually did an outstanding job with cast off veterans and no name young players, leading the to a 42 win season. Entering this season, the Clippers are loaded with depth with a solid combination of youth and veterans. The Clippers should be fairly competitive, but lack the star power to truly challenge any teams in the West.
Once again the Clippers were plagued with the injury bug as holdovers Patrick Beverley, Milos Teodosic, Avery Beasley, and Danilo Gallinari all missed extended time with various injuries. One of the most telling Stats was that the Clippers only had three lineups play more than 100 minutes together and none played more than 16 games. It's hard to find consistency with so many players shuffling in and out of the lineup.
The Point Guard Balance
Before last season, Milos Teodosic was somewhat of a YouTube legend for his passing ability but unfortunately we didn't get to see the full extent of it. Teodosic is an awful defender, but is an extremely good creator. Patrick Beverly missed almost the entire season with an injury of his own, but he is almost a polar opposite of Teodosic. Beverly is an excellent defender, but not great as a playmaker. Figuring out if they can play together or balancing the minutes correctly is going to be key for the Clippers this season.
Gallinari & Bradley
Both Danilo Gallinari and Avery Bradley flashed borderline all star potential at times but were extremely disappointing last season. Nuggets fans are all too familiar with the Gallinari's injury track record, so him missing time should not be a surprise. Bradley was regarded as one of the best two way players in the NBA during his time with the Celtics, but his tenure in Detroit was a complete disaster. If the Celtics version of Bradley and the healthy version of Gallinari show up this year the Clippers should compete for a playoff spot in the loaded Western Conference.
Player to Watch: Montrezl Harrell
Montrezl Harrell came over last season in the Chris Paul trade and by the end of the season was outplaying DeAndre Jordan. His raw numbers weren't overly impressive but he averaged 23.3 PPG and 8.5 RBP per 36 minutes. Harrell does have his weaknesses, but is proving that he can be an excellent pick and roll finisher with Teodosic running the point. With Jordan gone and Marcin Gortat replacing him, Harrell should have an expanded role. Look for him to eat away at Gortat's minutes, and don't be surprised to see him take over as the starting center at some point in the season.
PG: Patrick Beverly
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Danilo Gallinari
PF: Tobias Harris
C: Marcin Gortat
PG: Milos Teodosic
SG: Lou Williams
SF: Luc Mbah a Moute
PF: Mike Scott
C: Montrezl Harrell
Westgate Projected Win Total: 35.5
Projected Record: 36-46 (11th Western Conference)