Global Games: How the Clippers fared in China


Bad is the first word that comes to mind.

But even then, that doesn’t feel the perfect descriptor to describe how the Clippers looked in two games against the Charlotte Hornets while participating in the Global Games in China. The first game, in which the Clippers were without Chris Paul and Austin Rivers, ended in a 12-point loss for Los Angeles, led by J.J. Redick‘s 23 points. The second game, with the full Clippers roster available, fostered a game in which the decision was determined mid-way through the third quarter, as the Hornets blew out the Clippers 113-71 despite 17 points from Paul and his fractured left finger.

To keep this thought catalog organized, I’ll separate the thoughts into sections, with brief commentary on each, starting with — you guessed it! — the bench.

Right now, the bench kind of sucks

Compared to the Clippers, the Hornets looked to have a top bench unit available. There’s talent there — Jeremy Lin, Marvin Williams, Frank Kaminsky, Brian Roberts, Spencer Hawes, etc. — but this group is marginal at best, and opposite the Clippers’ reserves they looked like an elite bunch.

They don’t have shooters, the playmaking looks extremely forced, there’s a lot of standing around, etc. Ideally, time fixes this issue. Given the Clippers’ assets in the instance they attempt to make a trade (which isn’t really good), time is their best bet as it gives room for the group to grow comfortable with one another, to learn strengths and weaknesses, and find the perfect style of play to suite the group; from there, maybe they turn things around. I’m growing skeptical of such happening but it’d have to be proven unable before I jump fully on the bandwagon.

Josh Smith isn’t awful though

Which is a good sign considering he’s the best player on the Clippers’ bench right now, and maybe as he grows comfortable to a confined role — that includes very few contested threes or pull-up midrange attempts — the rest will follow suit. The on-off numbers weren’t dazzling in either game, which says more about how Charlotte’s reserves vastly outplayed Los Angeles’ than it does Smith’s play, but in the role of “center” you saw a lot of the things that makes him valuable to this team, with an example being operation in the pick-and-roll, like this:

Oct 13, 2015, Shanghai, China; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) waves to fans during fan appreciation night with the Los Angeles Clippers and the Charlotte Hornets at the Shanghai Oriental Sports Center. Mandatory Credit: Danny La-USA Today Sports

The starters are still the starters

Outside of the debacle that was pairing Luc Mbah a Moute with the other four starters to start the second half of Game 2, this group looked their usual selves, which is a good sign for the Clippers going forward, and great one when you realize the bench may not find itself until sometime mid-way through the season. That they need to be great with the “talent” on the bench is frustrating given last season’s issues but there’s some comfort in knowing the bunch is highly capable of doing such.


Outside of the bench, it’s hard to be down on any seen negatives as they’ve all been proven to work in some capacity. But this means all eyes will again be on the bench, and if things don’t hastily improve every recap will focus on the same issue barring an outlier performance from a non-starter or an unfortunate injury to distract from the current misery that is this bench.

Until next time, when the Clippers face off against the Golden State Warriors, which should be some kind of fun, right?

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