Rubio deal is a must
The Clippers must act before the trade deadline, here’s why …
The Los Angeles Clippers Are blocked. They cashed in all their chips in the summer of 2019 when they acquired the free agent Kawhi leonard, freshly won a championship and MVP of the final with the Toronto Raptors, and Paul George of Oklahoma City Thunder via trade.
The duo were revered in NBA speech and made comparisons with the wing tandem Michael jordan and Scottie Pippen. 20 months later and the Clippers have never been so far from a championship since signing.
Currently on 4e seed of the Western Conference, you might argue that all is not gloomy for the Clippers. Only 2 and a half matches separate them from city rivals the Los Angeles Lakers in second (Phoenix third).
Players have missed games. Kawhi had a collision with his teammate Serge Ibaka on the Christmas Day game against the Denver nuggets. The apparently still injured Patrick Beverley suffered a knee complaint last week and Paul George suffered a seven-game absence in February due to a bone edema injury. Constant injuries to key personnel were a hallmark of the team last year.
Kawhi was often late in team commitments due to his life in San Diego and his regular handling of the load. Paul George behaved like a superstar although he did not achieve Kawhi’s success in his career. The Head Coach Doc rivers did not hold the duo accountable and were ultimately fired.
New starts, same problems
This season was meant to be different. Harrell walked through the Staples Center lobby to join the Lakers, with Ibaka replacing him. Luke kennard joined the team through the trade of Detroit Pistons. Ty Lue slipped in the assistants chair to become the new head coach. There was supposed to be a renewed focus, a hunger, and a desire to prove everyone wrong. Instead, they showed everyone what they really are: suitors.
Statistics show the Clippers’ struggles. The Clippers Rank 27e in free throw attempts, despite leading the league in free throw percentage. In March alone, they are shooting almost two fewer free throws per game compared to February. The rebound slipped, almost three less per game in March than in February. The All-Star break should have been a welcome break for Ty Lue and his men. In fact, it has exacerbated an already worrying trend. After All-Star, they average 110.8 PPG, four points lower than the pre-All-Star and shoot a worse percentage from the ground (45.9% to 48.4%). In all areas: rebound, assists, blocks, three percentage points are all down.
Losing their temper in the clutch
The Los Angeles Clippers’ crunch time stats are devilish for a team aspiring to the NBA Championship.
The NBA defines the clutch as the last five minutes of the game, with the score within five points. Of the 30 teams in the National Basketball Association, the LA Clippers are the worst performing team in the clutch. In the 19 clutch games they’ve played, Los Angeles have lost 11. They have the lowest: points, field goal attempts, field goals achieved, field goal percentage and assists.
Point guard upgrade
Much has been said about the need for a playmaker’s team. As useful as Patrick Beverley is (43.3% on catch and shoot 3s), he is defensively oriented and cannot generate open shots for his teammates. Reggie Jackson is not good enough, especially in times of pressure. The duty of playmaker was largely taken up by Paul George. George is averaging a career-high 5.3 assists this season. Kawhi also distributes more the ball with a career tying 4.9 assists to his name. That being said, a new playmaker is a must.
ESPN writer Zach Lowe launched a business idea on his podcast, The Lowe Post Friday, it involved Beverly and Williams going to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Ricky rubio. Rubio is a good playmaker. His artistic passing mixed with players cutting to the rim can improve the Clippers’ free throw problems. It also gives them a ball handler in late game situations who can control the proceedings rather than just jump shots.
The Clippers on the clock. They no longer have any temporary capital having sold their assets to acquire Kawhi and PG. As they are currently built, they will not win the NBA Championship. They are more likely to lose in the first round than to advance to the Western Conference Finals. Parting with Beverley and Williams (and another player to make wages work) to get Rubio is something they have to do. GM Lawrence Frank must take a step, and quickly before the NBA trade deadline on the 25th.e March.