The LA Clippers could be beneficiaries of “The Ewing Theory”

HONOLULU, HI - OCTOBER 1: Blake Griffin
HONOLULU, HI - OCTOBER 1: Blake Griffin /

The LA Clippers could benefit this season from “The Ewing Theory”, a theory Bill Simmons has been pushing for years.

Chris Paul could be the ultimate “Ewing Theory” guy. Bill Simmons echoed these sentiments on the most recent episode of The Bill Simmons Podcast. You know what? He could be right.

What is this theory you ask?

We’ll let Bill explain. From his original article back in 2009:

"The theory was created in the mid-’90s by Dave Cirilli, a friend of mine who was convinced that Patrick Ewing’s teams (both at Georgetown and with New York) inexplicably played better when Ewing was either injured or missing extended stretches because of foul trouble…Eventually, we decided that two crucial elements needed to be in place for any situation to qualify for “Ewing” status:A star athlete receives an inordinate amount of media attention and fan interest, and yet his teams never win anything substantial with him (other than maybe some early-round playoff series).That same athlete leaves his team (either by injury, trade, graduation, free agency or retirement) — and both the media and fans immediately write off the team for the following season.When those elements collide, you have the Ewing Theory."

PLAYA VISTA, CA – SEPTEMBER 25: (L-R) DeAndre Jordan
PLAYA VISTA, CA – SEPTEMBER 25: (L-R) DeAndre Jordan /

The criteria

CP3 easily fits both of the criteria.

The Point God was a star before he arrived in LA, but the way he joined the Clippers increased his fame. After the initial hype died down on Lob City, people began to notice that something bad always happened to this team. The Clips with CP at the helm were exciting and a great regular season team, but would fall apart in the playoffs. Whether it was injuries to their stars or epic collapses, the team just could not get past the second round of the playoffs.

This summer, with a player option for his last year, Chris Paul informed the LA Clippers that he would like to be traded to Houston. The Clippers obliged, receiving a haul of players and a pick that they flipped in order to get Danilo Gallinari. The Clips lost one of the greatest point guards of all time and were left with a bunch of pieces to put together in a historically loaded Western Conference.

Early promise

It’s likely this article is premature. We have only watched two LA Clippers games in the post Chris Paul era and they are only preseason contests, so it’s hard to project for the future. However, there have been small glimpses of what this team could achieve.

Gone are the days of the point guard being ball dominant and slowing down play. Now, the Clippers want to get out and run and utilize the athleticism of their two All-Star bigs. Danillo Gallinari can hit transition threes, along with Lou Williams.

Milos Teodosic may be a huge drop off in defense from Chris Paul, but his court vision and passing have to be on the same levels. His early passing displays in Hawaii have already drawn the attention of the internet. I mean, just look at these passes from last night.

This type of playmaking will keep DeAndre Jordan involved offensively, keep defenses guessing and will give Blake Griffin a break from being the playmaker during stretches. Speaking of Blake…

The Blake factor

If Blake Griffin is able to continue to stretch his game, it will open up all sorts of possibilities for the Clippers. During the 2013-14 season, Blake Griffin finished 3rd in MVP voting. During that season, he scored 25.1 points on 52% shooting, grabbed 8.9 rebounds and dished out 4.2 assists when Chris Paul was off the court. Yes, that was a few years ago and Blake has had a few injuries since then. Still, last season, Blake was slightly better without CP3. He averaged 1 point and 1 rebound more and almost 2 assists more.

With Blake often being the primary playmaker on the court, it makes the Clippers more dangerous. Teams across the league have experimented with forwards running the offense and it more often than not causes confusion among defenses. I’m not going to sit here and say that Blake Griffin can be LeBron James, but he can be LeBron-like. If he facilitates while ocasionally knocking down a three or driving hard to the paint, it becomes nearly impossible to guard him. The loss of Chris Paul makes Blake a much bigger threat.

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Culture Change

The team also now has some grit, thanks to the arrival of Patrick Beverley. Many assumed the Clips would get caught up in complaining and whining during games, which was often led by CP3. Blake Griffin was also at fault at times, but he has made huge strides in not reacting. With Beverley at the helm, the team can forge a new, tougher identity.

This can only help the Clippers as they aren’t as talented as some other teams in the West. LA has solid players at every position, but only two borderline superstars. If they can form a new team identity and stick to it, it could help them advance further then before.

An identity change ultimately hinges on Doc Rivers, which may be the last thing holding this team back. Doc had responsibilities taken away from him during the offseason so that he can focus all of his attention on coaching, but will that be enough? Player’s supposedly love playing for Doc, but some of his lineup decisions have been questionable. With a deep stable of players this season, he may not have any more excuses to fumble lineups and cost the team games. If he can capitalize though, the Clippers can be a strong threat to a lot of teams.

Does the theory hold true?

Now, all of that being said, I’m not going to end this by saying CP3 leaving means the Clippers will reach the Western Conference Finals. That would be asinine. As everyone knows, the West is completely loaded. LA will probably fighting for playoff seeding, with only a few games separating 5th and 8th place in the conference. If a couple of things roll their way, the team could be in prime position to surprise people, whether it is this year or next. We’ll just have to see if the theory holds true.