Los Angeles Clippers: Top 5 Power Forwards of All Time

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No. 2: Elton Brand

In a recent article done at Clipperholics to celebrate the start of the NFL season, I, in an attempt to find the Clippers’ football equivalent, eventually landing on the Atlanta Falcons, compared the Falcons’ Michael Vick era to the Clippers’ Elton Brand era, as the period was intertwined with much promise as its end was doleful.

Before Brand became a Clipper, the Duke forward, fresh off being named the National College Player of the Year behind leading the Blue Devils to the national championship game (a loss), was drafted first overall in the ’99 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls; but after two seasons in Illinois, averaging 20-10-2.5 in the span, the big man was traded to Los Angeles for Tyson Chandler and Brian Skinner.

There’s an argument to be made that since the move to LA, no Clipper has had a better individual season than Brand in ’05-06

One of the rare trades won by the Clippers, Brand would immediately make his impact in Staples Center, thanks in part to an impressive offensive repertoire and even better defensive package. Though Brand didn’t immediately thrust the Clippers into playoff contention, he’d help push the franchise to its best season from a win-loss perspective immediately as the Clippers won 39 games in 2000-01, a feat that hadn’t been matched since Danny Manning and co. won 41 in 1992-93. Three years later, the Clippers would finally join the playoff race, thanks in large part to Elton Brand’s historic season; the forward averaged 24.7 points, 10.0 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.5 blocks, and a Player Efficiency Rating of 26.5 — in NBA history, only eight players have averaged 24 points/10 rebounds/2 blocks/26 PER (Brand, Olajuwon, Shaq, David Robinson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Anthony Davis), and since the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 1984, only Dominique Wilkins has averaged more points per game in a season (29.1), though Wilkins’ performance came in only 29 games. Riding the shoulders of Brand, the Clippers would defeat the Denver Nuggets 4-1 in the opening round; in Round 2, the Clippers fought hard against the 7SOL Phoenix Suns, falling in seven games — in the playoffs, Brand averaged 25.4 points, 10.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists, and 2.6 blocks per game.

Oct 7, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Atlanta Hawks power forward Elton Brand (42) on the bench in the second half in a game against the Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

From there, it was all downhill for Brand — and the Clippers: in ’06-07, Brand would regress statistically and the Clippers would fail to return to the playoffs, winning only 40 games; in ’07-08, Brand would only play eight games on the season because of a ruptured achilles. In the summer of 2008, rumors of frugalness and an ultimatum would lead Brand to the Philadelphia 76ers, spurning the Clippers in the process.

But due to the achilles tear, Brand would never get close to the player everyone saw in ’05-06, topping out at 15.0 points and 8.3 rebounds in 2010-11, helping lead the 76ers to the playoffs. Two years later, Brand would wind up a Dallas Maverick for one season after being waived by Philly; and after Dallas, Atlanta would become Brand’s home for two years before officially retiring this past summer.

There’s an argument to be made that since the move to LA, no Clipper has had a better individual season than Brand’s 05-06 output, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin included. As of now, Brand is 1st in total rebounds (4710) in franchise history, second in blocks (1039), third in points (9336), second in minutes played (17595), and second in PER (23.4) — in a few years, there’s a possibility Brand is one of the first Clippers to get their jerseys retired by the franchise, regardless of how poorly things ended in LA for the big man.

Next: Numero Uno