Clippers counter-point: Calm down everyone, all is well


Yes, it’s easy to panic while the Los Angeles Clippers struggle, but maybe everyone just needs to calm down instead.

I am not the type to play both sides of the fence regardless of the topic. If you want an honest opinion about anything, come to me and you will get it. These Clippers though are in an odd spot. On one hand, we understand the process they have to go through with integrating new players into their system, so a rough start was to be expected. On the other hand, they look passionless and at times disorganized, which are never traits you want to see in any team with championship aspirations. Is it time to panic or is it time for patience?


This is my admonition to Clippers fans everywhere that it is time to be patient. My edict to Clipper fans everywhere that it is indeed time to panic can be found here. When it comes to these Clippers at this time there is no choice but to plant myself firmly on both sides of the fence!

They really aren’t that much worse this year than they were last year at this same time

Wow, that’s right. After 12 games last season the Clippers were an uninspiring 7-5 and not exactly turning the Association on its head. They looked like a mediocre team and they were playing like one too. It took a while for the team to get traction but when they did they played up to their capabilities. After that sluggish start the Clippers went 11-2 over their following thirteen games and played like a team with a mission.

There is nothing better for a team in turmoil than a nice 11-2 record over their next 13 games. The 2015-16 Clippers play a relatively weak group of Western Conference teams over their next 13 games before heading out to play some Eastern Conference squads. If they can match the 11-2 record that changed their fortunes last year then few will remember the 6-7 record they currently posses.

It’s a long season

As unfortunate as a losing record is at this point, the reality of the situation is that the Clippers aren’t even 20 percent of the way into the season yet. There is more time for the team to come together, for the bench to find its way and for the small forward position to be solidified. Phil Jackson used to hold off judgement on his teams until the 20th game of the season. We aren’t even at that point yet. Sure, things haven’t looked great, but there is more time on the clock. The Golden State Warriors didn’t panic when then were down 23 points to the Clippers in the first half of their game on Thursday, November 19, did they?

Sorry to bring that up in the “patience” section of point counter-point, but you see my point. This is still the first quarter of the NBA season. Yes, the Clippers are down, but there is still a lot of basketball left to play.

November 22, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) moves the ball against Toronto Raptors forward Patrick Patterson (54) and guard Cory Joseph (6) during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

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Process takes time

Doc Rivers, and every NBA coach employed or not, loves to preach process. The Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls had to get past the Detroit Pistons. The Los Angeles Lakers had to beat the Boston Celtics. Every great champion had a foe just like every super hero needs a villain. Would Superman really be all that super without Lex Luther? Every loss is a chance to learn, to grow, and to understand how not to repeat a mistake. Every coach preaches this, but Doc Rivers explains it. He lived it. He understands it and his teams believe him.

The Clippers had the right coach when the Donald Sterling fiasco hit the fan and they have the right coach now. The process cannot be stopped, it cannot be circumvented, it must be traversed. For these Clippers, as painful as their current 6-7 record must be, they are mature enough to understand it is simply a step in the process.

Blake Griffin looks as if he has made the step to superstar

Reggie Miller in the national telecast of the game against the Warriors went out of his way to explain how impressed he was with Blake’s game. It is hard to imagine that this is the same player who would clank free throws on par with DeAndre Jordan during his rookie year. Griffin has always had a monster game from three feet under the hoop and closer, but outside of that area he was ridiculously inconsistent to start his NBA career. Now, when he goes up from 15 feet you expect it to go in. If that shot is taken away he knows to drive and certainly knows how to finish. He remains one of the best passing big men in the Association and he has handle on par with that of a guard. He is a unique player reaching levels that have not been seen at his position in… ever?

With Griffin taking the step from star to superstar the Clippers have a player to build around. The Association is a players league, a star driven league. Give a bad coach a great team and they will often win in spite of him. Give a great coach a bad team and they will lose, but play hard doing it. In order to win in this league you need a star and in Blake Griffin the Clippers have a super star.

Chris Paul is still at his peak

Point guards tend to drop off in productivity quicker than other positions. It makes sense when you consider that the PG spot is generally reserved for the player who is most vertically challenged. While other players at other positions can continue to use and rely on their height or girth when the point guard’s talent dwindles he doesn’t have much to fall back on. While CP3 is at the cusp of the moment when talent can begin to dwindle, he is showing little signs of aging.

Against the Dubs he scored 35 points and added eight assists. He played a great game against a great opponent. He remains one of the top five point guards in a point guard dominated league. He is a perennial All-Star and no doubt has two to three quality years left in him. This is a players league and in CP3 the Clippers have one of the best at his position.

Nov 11, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) reacts during the game against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

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The team hasn’t been healthy

LeBron James recently called the Warriors the healthiest team in the Association. There is no denying their talent, but health has certainly been a contributing factor to their incredible start this season. The Clippers have not been as fortunate. Chris Paul and J.J. Redick have already missed games and the small forward position has been a bit of a revolving door. Consistency and health matter.

Of course, every team can expect an injury over the course of a long season. That is one reason the franchise worked over the off season to build a reliable bench. The problem is that the bench is still finding its place so an injury to a key player, like Reddick and/or Paul, has a bigger impact on the Clippers than it might on a team with a more seasoned bench. Health, for most teams, ebbs and flows. The team will get healthy and we all know what they can do when they are.

They have the right coach

Coaching at the NBA level is less about developing a player as it is about connecting with that player. It’s about trust and respect. While players at the high school level and, for some, the collegiate level, play for the love of the sport, players in the Association do this for a living. This is their nine-to-five. By the time they reach this level their game has already been scrutinized and dissected. In general, they know their weaknesses and strengths. That is not to say they cannot grow beyond that, Griffin is a great example, but for most players they come into the NBA in need of understanding how to play their game at the next level. That is where the coach comes in.

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A good coach communicates with his players. He (and soon maybe she?) helps the player understand his role in the bigger picture. He is blatantly honest with the player and welcomes conflict. A good coach connects with his players and can maneuver the player and the team through difficult times. A good coach takes a group of individuals and builds a team. Doc Rivers is a good coach. He will use this dip as a motivational tool. Rivers understands the big picture and he will make sure his players do as well.

No Clippers fan, this is not the time to panic. Anyone who tells you that is crazy. Now is the time to stick by your team, rest on the positives and be patient. I can’t stand sports writers who are so quick to pull the “Panic Card”. Shame on them.

(Editor’s note: To read Jose Salviati’s other side of the argument, click here).