LA Clippers: Deciding who belongs on the All-Time First Team
Chris Paul and Randy Smith
CP3 is one of the easiest decisions on the team. As a Clipper, he averaged 18.8 points and 9.8 assists per game, on an efficient 47.5% from the field and 37.8% from 3.
Paul also provided very good, often excellent defense at the point guard position and was one of those guys who just knew where he was supposed to be at all times.
The biggest detraction from CP3 was just availability. He seemed like he had a knack for getting injured at the worst possible time, and he only played in more than 70 regular season games twice in his 6 years as a Clipper.
That said, there’s no denying that Chris Paul is one of the most talented basketball players to set foot on the floor for the Clippers, and I’m not going to take away too much for injury concerns when his on-court performance was that good.
At the other guard, spot is the Iron Man himself, Randy Smith. After being drafted in the 1971 draft by the Buffalo Braves, Smith played his first 8 seasons with the team. He would also return for one last season in 1982 at the age of 34.
This one could be a questionable pick, as Smith would play at the 2 and the 3 spot, sort of in the vein of a Paul George. I decided to slot him in as a guard, mostly because I wanted to pay tribute to a lesser-known but very worthy Clipper.
In his 8 year run with the team, starting with his rookie year, Smith averaged 18.7 points, 5.1 assists and 4.5 rebounds on 47.2% shooting. And remember, this was an era with no three-point line.
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At his peak with the team at the age of 29, the Iron Man put up 24.6 points, 5.6 assists and 3.8 rebounds on 46.5% shooting. Smith was an incredible athlete, having set the New York State high jump record at 6’6″. He used this athleticism to play a very modern style, relying on fast breaks and playing above the rim. He was also modern in his foul drawing, getting to the line 7 times a game at his peak.
And you also have to mention the reason behind his nickname, the Iron Man. From 1972-1982, Randy Smith played in every single NBA game, totaling 906, setting the record. This would later be surpassed by A.C. Green with 1,192 straight games. It’s hard to imagine this ever getting broken in today’s NBA – for context, the active leader is Joe Ingles, with 368.
He would also (alongside the person who gets the Center spot on this list) help the team to three straight playoff spots. No small task, given that they were the only times the team made the playoffs before the 1991-92 season!
An honorable mention (hint hint, we’ll probably see him on 2nd team) is World B. Free. World put up 28.8 points per game and 30.2 points per game in his two seasons with the Clippers, but Smith’s longevity with the team, a modern game in the 70s and playoff berths gave him the nod for me.