Five Things Learned from the Clippers Preseason

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October 24, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews (2) controls the ball against the defense of Los Angeles Clippers guard J.J. Redick (4) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

5) Defense and rebounding are still issues

When head coach Doc Rivers said the Clippers needed Bill Russell for rebounding, he forgot to mention defense. While both were poor, it’s easier to point out rebounds because defense lacks a universal statistic to point to when things are going bad, the closest being defensive rating.

Rebound wise, the Clippers were bad through the preseason. In fact, they were the worst in the league, grabbing 36 a game — for a reference, the Miami Heat were worst in the league last season at 36.88 per game — while their opponents averaged 43.73 per game, the sixth highest mark of the preseason. With DeAndre Jordan one of the best rebounders in the league, you just have to hope the rest of the team puts a greater emphasis on controlling the boards, especially considering opponents averaged north of 12 offensive rebounds per game in the preseason. More possessions for opponents isn’t ideal, especial with the Clippers being mediocre on defense.

Speaking of defense, the issues that existed last season shone bright. Rotations are late … everywhere. To combat late rotations, rim protection has to be near perfect. Jordan made progress last season. The addition of Ekpe Udoh should help if given playing time. But outside of those two, the roster can’t add much there, especially that of backup center Spencer Hawes who was one of the worst rim protectors in the league last season (allowed teams to shoot 57.1% at the rim last season).

All eyes will be on Jordan this season. Even if he shouldn’t be saddled with the burden of carrying this team defensively a la a prime-Tyson Chandler, with his free agency arriving in the summer of the 2015, many will look to see if he’s grown closer to the player many expect and want him to be.

Everyone else? Let’s just hope Rivers and assistant coach Mike Woodson can cook up an effective system before the playoffs arrive.

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