The Clippers will only need a new big man for one situation


Jul 21, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan (left) and coach Doc Rivers at press conference at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Clippers are still interested in adding one last big man to their revamped roster, despite their upgrades over Glen Davis and Spencer Hawes with Josh Smith and Cole Aldrich. It would give the bottom of Doc Rivers’ rotation a final piece to solidify his Clippers’ vastly improved depth. Of course it makes sense, but the simple truth is that the need to actually use another big man will only arise in the event of an injury.

With Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers have one of the league’s best frontcourts, with the former as an elite offensive player and the latter as one of the best defensive centers in the game. Not to mention, their athleticism is off the charts.

No matter who the Clippers bring to L.A., their starting big men are always going to be playing at least 33 minutes per game. There’s no way that Doc wouldn’t want to utilize that kind of talent. But with Smith and Aldrich, the team has a far better pair to support Blake and DeAndre on a more consistent basis.

On top of that, with a hyper athletic defensive specialist in rookie Branden Dawson, the Clippers have even more frontcourt depth than people remember. Dawson dominated the Big Ten Conference last year, ranking first in offensive rebounds (102), rebounds per game (9.1) and total rebound percentage (17.9), whilst finishing 4th in blocks per game (1.7) as well.

With his explosiveness and potential to operate as a defensive energizer in small bursts off the bench, the Clippers can use him as an option at power forward after Smith, but that’s likely not going to happen for some time. Doc Rivers normally uses the players at the bottom of his rotation in minimal amounts, so it could take a few months of the season before Dawson is able to prove himself and carve out a small role. Yet, there’s no doubt in my mind that he can produce 5-10 minutes here and there to make a real difference as a versatile defender.

Dec 14, 2014; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard/forward Branden Dawson (22) blocks shot of Oakland Golden Grizzlies guard Kahlil Felder (20) during the 2nd half of a game at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

However, that doesn’t mean that another big man wouldn’t be a welcome addition. More depth is always helpful. Just look at the last two NBA champions: the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors. Their winning squads were both renowned for team play and depth.

And in the event of a possible injury to one of their four key frontcourt players, the Clippers would be left in a  worrying situation. So it makes perfect sense that they are still interested in Glen Davis, Ryan Hollins and now Chris Singleton (as has been reported by Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times), rather than another guard.

Although, that’s the only real situation in which another big man would be used. Except for the event of an injury to either Griffin, Jordan, Smith or Aldrich, another backup power or center is going to see a few minutes per game at best.

Take backup big man Ekpe Udoh, for example. Last season, he played in just 33 games for the Clippers, averaging a mere 3.9 minutes a night. And when it came to the playoffs, Doc had to use his stars even more. Of course he didn’t have a bench last season, but he still resorted to playing Griffin 39.8 minutes a night in the postseason which can’t continue in their 2015-16 campaign.

Doc only played his primary backup center, Spencer Hawes, in eight playoff games, giving him just 7.1 minutes each night. So with Smith and Aldrich, who are more capable of taking some of the pressure off Griffin and Jordan, there’s hardly much time left for anyone else who the Clippers sign.

More from Clipperholics

Even if the Clippers bring back Davis, it’s hard to see that he’ll make it onto the court every night and play more than 5 minutes, despite playing 12.2 per game in the regular season in 2014-15. As for Singleton or Hollins, the chance of them earning any more playing time than Udoh is minimal at best.

The Clippers just have too much depth now for another big man to make much of an impact, and except for a potential injury, they’ll probably be restricted to the bench most nights. Obviously a safety option for such a situation is important, but don’t expect to see one last addition make much difference throughout the season. Although, if Doc does look to trust another member of his second unit frontcourt, hopefully by the end of 2015 he’ll have given Braden Dawson a chance to prove himself.

With his athleticism and relentless hustle, Dawson possesses the perfect combination of defense and rebounding. Which are two attributes that the Clippers need more than anything else.

Next: Why Chris Paul is the NBA's best mid-range shooter