Clippers Hoots and Hollers Week 1: Blake Griffin takes over


Hoots and Hollers is a new weekly column that will publish every Monday. Author Nate Head examines the past week in Los Angeles Clippers basketball, analyzing the good (hoots) and the bad (hollers), while also providing a brief look at the week ahead. This first episode will look at both the short week that started the season, and the first full week of action.

Weeks 1 and 2:

Record: 4-2 (4-2 overall)

Standings: 4th in Western conference


1. Blake Griffin… The shooter

When Griffin was drafted in 2009, nobody doubted his superb athleticism or knack for highlight reel dunks. Analysts (critics) targeted his shooting ability, and they cited his lack of a mid-range jumper as a major flaw in his game that they predicted would be exposed as his career progressed. Griffin’s shooting stroke went under the needle three years ago under the watchful eye of his shooting coach Bob Thate, working tirelessly to correct his ailing technique. Griffin said in his February Players Tribune article that he shoots about 300 mid-range shots per day — and it shows. Since 2012, Griffin’s field goal percentage from 16-23 feet has increased by season and it appears to be reaching its peak this year. Through the Clippers’ first five games, Griffin shot 21-of-45 from mid-range, a scalding 46.7 percent, which is higher than Carmelo Anthony, Dwyane Wade, and Kawhi Leonard.

2. Offense finding nylon

Scoring has yet to be an issue for the Clippers so far, as the team has breezed past 100 points in each of their first six contests. Griffin leads the team with 29.6 points per game, followed by Chris Paul (17) and J.J. Redick (15.3). The Clips have managed to shoot efficiently, as they are tied for first in the league in field goal percentage at 48.1. This is certainly an aspect of the team that was expected to be good, and they have lived up to their expectations (and then some) so far.

November 4, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors forward Harrison Barnes (40) dunks the basketball against the Los Angeles Clippers during the fourth quarter at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Clippers 112-108. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Next: Clippers X's and O's Episode 1


1. Losses to the big cats

I know it’s early, but to be the best, you have to beat the best. The Clippers have already seen two of the four teams Vegas predicted to have better odds of a Western conference title in the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets. Both games were decided by the narrow margin of four points, but a win in at least one of those games would have been a quality confidence booster in the opening week of the season. Instead, a late three-pointer from Stephen Curry on Wednesday night and a blown goaltending call on Saturday against Houston doused the Clippers, who enter Monday night’s matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies on a two-game losing streak.

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2. Same old, sad story with bench

Is a serviceable bench too much to ask for? Doc Rivers probably asks himself with his head in his hands at night. Jokes aside, Rivers entered the season with a group of reserves many touted as elite, led by the offseason additions of Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, and Lance Stephenson and the return of Jamal Crawford and Austin Rivers. Sadly, Smith and Stephenson have been shaky at best, and Pierce is shooting an abysmal 23.8 percent from three-point territory. Collectively, Clippers’ reserves rank 26th in efficiency, per Hoops Stats.

So, what’s next?

The Clippers have four games this week, with two at home and two away. Los Angeles hosts the Grizzlies on Monday, and the Detroit Pistons Saturday afternoon. The Clippers travel to play back-to-back games away from the Staples Center on Wednesday and Thursday, taking on the Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns, respectively (they have defeated both already this season).

Nate’s Player of the Week: Blake Griffin.