Coming off a year in which the Clippers saw four players listed in the Sports Illustrated top-100 (including two in the top 10), what can we expect to see in this year’s list from Ben Golliver and Rob Mahoney?
Last year, J.J. Redick came in at 59 and Chris Paul was sitting pretty at number 4. The two members of the old ‘Core-four’ are now elsewhere. This leaves the LA Clippers with Deandre Jordan, who was number 20 last season, Blake Griffin, who was number 10, and Danilo Gallinari who fell at 47.
Looking further back to years past, we can make some educated guesses about where the 2017/18 Clippers might fall.
Right off the top, we can forget about the majority of our roster. The rookies and the end-of-the-bench-guys, along with the rotation players like Willie Reed, Montrezl Harrell and Sam Dekker won’t feature. Arguments could be made for Austin Rivers and Lou Williams after strong seasons, but with 150 starters in the NBA, there just isn’t room in a top-100 list.
What about Milos Teodosic? The hype and expectations are going to be high for the European guard as he sees his first NBA action and officially sheds his title as the ‘best player outside the NBA’.
Golliver stated on the Open Floor podcast this week that rookies are never placed on the list. Although Teodosic is a veteran in every sense of the word, he is technically a rookie, which will count against him. It’s impossible to compare overseas statistics to the NBA, so it would be difficult to quantify Teodosic as a player, and as a result he won’t find a home in the top-100.
3 out of 5 starters ain’t bad. Let’s break down where they could/should land on the 2018 list.
Gallinari, known best for punching people right in the face, is also the scoring wing the Clippers have been missing for years. In 2017 he was number 47 on the list, in 2016 he was number 73 and in 2015 he was number 62. In short, all over the place. This makes it very difficult to predict his ranking this year. It could be presumed that Gallinari’s injury history is a cause of the fluctuation, and in a year in which he played 63 games this will likely be noted again.
Nonetheless, Gallinari is a scoring threat on the wing that is still the right side of 30. I predict that he will drop but still fall comfortably within the 100 mark.
DJ has climbed the rankings consistently over the past few years. He rounded out the top 20 last year and was 29 and 38 in the preceding years. Last season he was an All-Star and an All-NBA talent. That said, it is difficult to climb dramatically in the premier quarter of the top-100. I’d be happy if DJ stayed right where he is.
Griffin, with the ink drying on his new 5-year deal, has enjoyed a purple patch in the top-100. Last year he was rated the 10th best, 8th the previous year and 10th in 2015. It is notable that in last year’s description, his injuries were noted, although his ranking didn’t suffer dramatically as a result. Following another year with injury issues, I don’t think Blake will be so lucky. As a result, I predict our first year in recent history without a top-10 talent in a LA Clippers’ jersey.