Thursday, January 8, 2009

At Center Court with Kevin Arnovitz

There may be no nobler fan in the whole Association than a Clippers fan. Many franchises struggle in games, are ignored by the media and just generally make it hard on their supporters, but the Clippers have the added disadvantage of playing in the shadow of the Los Angeles Lakers. And yet, with one of the NBA's marquee teams housed in the same building, the Clippers have managed to garner a loyal fan base.

One member of this base is Kevin Arnovitz, the author of the excellent ClipperBlog. Kevin was kind enough to answer a few questions for us so we here at 48 Minutes of Hell could gain a little insight into this embattled but nonetheless loved franchise.

GG: There seems to be a growing consensus that signing Baron Davis was a mistake. Do you agree and if so, why?

KA: That's a complex question because it's hard to evaluate the Davis acquisition independent of what transpired with Elton Brand. Had Brand re-signed, things appeared very promising. Once Brand bolted for Philadelphia, Davis seemed to fall into a spiral of self-pity. Since there's no statistical model in the world that supports Davis shooting in the low 30% range from the field, I think it's safe to assume that he's hurt, which puts a further asterisk next to the question. We still haven't seen how this team functions with a healthy Davis, a healthy Randolph, a healthy Kaman, and an increasingly confident Eric Gordon. If and when that happens, we'll be able to render judgment on Davis.
GG: The absence of Ricky Davis has given Eric Gordon an opportunity to see a lot of court time. In your opinion, how has Gordon played so far this season? Do you believe Gordon has the talent to be a centerpiece in a rebuilt Clippers squad?

KA: Yes. Gordon is the Clippers' best shooting guard since Ron Harper. He has a good handle, is decisive on the drive with a good hesitation move, and is incredibly strong -- all of which serve his dribble game well. His shooting stroke is gorgeous, and he has limitless range. Gordon defends both 1s and 2s extremely well, and has the strength to fight through screens. He's third in the league among starting shooting guards in true shooting percentage, behind only Ray Allen and Kevin Martin. Right now, his rebounding rate is a that's an area where he can improve.
GG: During the 05-06 season, I thought the Clippers were well on their way to building a team that would be a perennial playoff presence. After an impressive postseason run that year, what went wrong? What moves (roster, coaching, front office) are necessary to get this team back on track?

KA: Elton got hurt; Cassell and Mobley got older; Kaman improved, but not enough. To get back to respectability, the Clippers need able bodies first and foremost. A healthy Baron Davis and an emerging Eric Gordon are nice anchors in the backcourt. With Randolph, Marcus Camby, and Kaman, they're more than spoken for on the block. What the Clippers need to get back to 45-50 wins is a 3 who can facilitate and pass. Thornton is a bit of a black hole. A 3 out of the Odom, Battier Turkoglu mold -- even a Luke Walton or Nicolas Batum -- would serve them well.
The Spurs and the Clippers tip-off this evening in San Antonio at 8:30 Eastern/7:30 Central.

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