Charles Barkley is right and wrong about the Clippers


For some reason people love to hear Charles Barkley talk about basketball, so with the 2015 NBA Playoffs right around the corner, Barkley’s opinion has once again been sought out.

Speaking on all things pertaining to the playoffs — teams, players, etc. — Barkley was asked about the Clippers and had some interesting things to say about the team, specifically their Big 3 in Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.

“Chris Paul is the reason they’re winning. He’s not the reason they’re losing [in the postseason],” Barkley said yesterday in a conference call. “He has to do so much for that team because you can’t get the ball to DeAndre, who is a hell of a player, but you can’t give him the ball. I would be curious to see the last time he scored when he didn’t dunk.

“I would love for somebody to go back and look at the entire season and count DeAndre Jordan’s baskets and I bet you it’s probably been [a ratio of] 90 to 10, dunks to making a shot.”

Barkley would continue, this time focusing on All-Star forward Blake Griffin. “Blake, to me, I like Blake a lot as a player but he has not become better in the halfcourt,” Barkley said. “He’s become a jump shooter. And that goes back to those guys at Golden State. If I’m guarding Blake, I want him to shoot jumpers, because if he comes toward me full speed or posts me up, I’m going to have to get in foul trouble.

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  • “Every time he shoots a jump shot, the defender is saying, ‘Thank God, he shot a jumper.’ So if he keeps saying he wants to round his game, screw that, man. You get to the basket, you get layups, dunks, you get the other team in foul trouble.”

    Where Barkley is right? Chris Paul is far from the sole reason as to why the Clippers have failed to exceed past the Western Conference semi-finals since his arrival in 2011. Chuck also has a point in Griffin giving defenses a break by ‘settling’ for jump shots, but there’s more to it than just that.

    In regards to Griffin’s shooting, it’s a development he would have needed to make sooner or later in his career — Griffin decided sooner would work best as the NBA playing style version of ‘ground and pound’ left the star in pain via his post in the Player’s Tribune. The real issue is finding a balance between being a shooter and attacker, something Griffin has improved on throughout the season.

    ““Every time he shoots a jump shot, the defender is saying, ‘Thank God, he shot a jumper” – Charles Barkley on LA’s Blake Griffin

    The halfcourt argument? Griffin’s not a problem in the halfcourt. He can work in the pick-and-pop or pick-and-roll and like few players, out of those situations, Griffin can be an elite attacker, elite passer, or average mid-range shooter. Not bad options for the power forward.

    As far as the critiques about DeAndre Jordan’s offense, it’s 100 percent true that he’s limited. Shooting 71 percent from the field this season, the second highest FG% by a player in NBA history behind Wilt Chamberlain, the majority of Jordan’s attempts come within the paint. And those shots, majority times, are dunks. Per Basketball-Reference, 47% of Jordan’s made shots were dunks (252).

    Yet, somehow, in back-to-back seasons, the Clippers have managed to top the league in offensive rating with Jordan playing big minutes. The idea that a player who is offensively inept can’t help a team on offense continue to be false. Sure, Jordan can’t give the Clippers what Marc Gasol can give Memphis or what Tim Duncan can give San Antonio. Hell, he can’t even be what Jon Leuer is in terms of creating offense. But his ability to dive to the basket, and the threat of Jordan finishing an alley-oop — has been key to freeing up shooters, something the Clippers desperately need as they lack nifty offensive creators on the wing.

    But this isn’t the reason why the Clippers lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder in last year’s playoffs or the Memphis Grizzlies the year before or the San Antonio Spurs in 2012.

    Want to point a finger at someone for those losses (since that’s the ‘cool’ thing to do). In 2012, the Clippers had zero chance defeating San Antonio and Chris Paul and Blake Griffin entered the series injured.

    Against Memphis in 2013, injury to Blake Griffin and struggles from key reserves in Eric Bledsoe, Chauncey Billups and Jamal Crawford led to their eventual demise.

    Against OKC last year, Paul’s noteworthy blunder didn’t help, but he was far from the true issue — the Clippers lacked the personnel to deal with Kevin Durant (CP3 was asked to guard Durant numerous times) and the team lacked in the frontcourt outside of Griffin and Jordan.

    This isn’t to Jordan and Griffin are absolved from any blame, but given the context surrounding their play, pointing a finger at them for the team’s failures would only occur after making stops at several other wrongs (right now, number one is Doc Rivers‘ general managerial skills).

    Besides, it’s Charles Barkley, so if he’s saying Blake and Jordan are a problem, 9 out of 10 times they aren’t.

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