With the lockout likely to linger well into October and perhaps into November, trying to preview the season of 30 teams that might not actually have one seems about as worthwhile as raking leaves on a windy day. But I love raking and the wind only makes it last longer. We here at Razzball have you covered, even if you didn’t want to be covered. That’s love. You’ll appreciate it when you’re older. Look at it this way, the only way any of this stuff can be disproven is if the season starts. So go ahead, NBA, make me a fibber! I dare you. Until then, consider this fantasy basketball gospel. Don’t even bother reading anything else – dem’s all lies. From now until the start of the season, we’re bringing you the 2011 Fantasy Team Previews, which will focus on each team in order to paint a clearer fantasy picture. Who’s starting? Who might surprise you? And who might make you want to hurl yourself off a bridge in a few months. Enjoy! Next up – The Los Angeles Clippers (known as “the Hipster Lakers” by no one but me).
Gained – Trey Thompkins, Travis Leslie
Lost – Chris Kaman (if the Clips have their way), the general stink of the Baron Davis Era
Probable position depth –
PG – Mo Williams, Eric Bledsoe
SG – Eric Gordon, Randy Foye, Willie Warren
SF – Al-Farouq Aminu, Ryan Gomes, Travis Leslie, Jamario Moon
PF – Blake Griffin, Craig Smith, Trey Thompkins, Ike Diogu, Brian Cook
C – Chris Kaman, DeAndre Jordan
Surprising Team Fact From Last Season – The Clippers jumped from 670,063 yearly attendance in 2009 (16,343 per game) to 727,462 (17,743 per game). That was the biggest jump in attendance all season.
Number of Top 20 Fantasy Players (par 0-1) – 1, Griffin
Number of Top 50 Fantasy Players (par 1-2) – 2, Gordon
Number of Top 75 Fantasy Players (par 2-3) – 0
Number of Top 100 Fantasy Players (par 3-4) – 3, Williams
Number of Top 200 Fantasy Players (par 6-7) – 6, Jordan, Kaman, Aminu
3 Concerns Heading Into the Season
1. Kaman or Jordan? Or Craig Smith? … just kidding about that last one.
It feels as if the Clippers have been trying to unload Kaman for six seasons now, and I believe 2011 is the year they do it. I can’t completely discount Kaman because there’s no telling where he’ll go or what he’s got left in the tank if he stays. But the same reasons I can’t discount him, I won’t invest much in him either. He’s older, he’s oft-injured (or offed-injured, if he ever happens to die from one of his ailments) and the team has been trying to discard him like one of those Jesus pamphlets that end up on bus seats. On top of that, the Clips’ GM has suggested he’d match any offer sheet extended to Jordan, which is not something GMs usually do for backup centers. “Challenge accepted.” – David Kahn.
2. Even Vinny Del Negro can’t mess this lineup up, right?
Of course he can, don’t ask silly questions. But let’s say for a second that VDN wasn’t a terrible coach, this team just doesn’t have a great bench. The Clips are right on the cusp (Clusp?) of the playoffs, but there’s an obvious weakness at the three and not a whole lot of help for Griffin at the four. Now, go ahead and toss the probability that Del Negro will play Ryan Gomes and Craig Smith a combined 40 mpg and you’ve got yourself a precarious playoff outlook.
3. Does Gordon’s improvement these last two seasons make him a top-tier SG or does his injury history push him back down to the 50-80 range?
Let’s split the difference and put him somewhere in the 40s. If you like a little more risk, take him around 35th, if you don’t want to reach even a little until later round, see if waiting until round four works.
Rookie Review! – We’ll start with the 37th overall pick Thompkins, who looks like one of the better late picks in this year’s draft, despite the fact that he’s as graceful as a giraffe on roller skates. He has a nice little shot from 15 feet out that comes pre-loaded with a grab-bag of fakes – not a gunny sack full of fakes, this is just a grab bag. It holds a few fakes, a packet of gum and a Cup ‘N’ Ball game for the kids. He won’t do much in 2011, but if he can build his frame and improve his speed, he could be a huge asset in another year or three. Then there’s Travis Leslie, whom I have already taken to calling Leslie Travis: Dixieland’s Sweetheart. Don’t follow me down that rabbit hole; once you flip his name, you won’t be able to unflip it. Anyway, Leslie’s not tall enough to dominate the SF position and he’s not a good enough shooter to make a dent at SG. He’s wiry and fast, but if that’s all the Clippers wanted, they could have gotten Jamario Moon. … What’s that? Oh.
Fantasy Disappointment in ’11 – Chris Kaman. Though I can say any fantasy season in which I own Chris Kaman has turned out disappointingly.
Biggest Fantasy Contributor in ’11 – Blake Griffin. I wanted to say Gordon. Gordon’s playing at a less bountiful position and he’s improved every season in his career. But B. Griffin be Griffin and I’m not in the business of writing things just to be contrary. ‘Lord of the Rings’ is overrated!
Deep Sleeper – Al-Farouq Aminu. If L.A. can’t get ahold of Iguodala or someone of that ilk, Aminu is the best of the not-good. What? You think Gomes, Moon and Dixieland’s Sweetheart are making a dent? Aminu was on the fringes of fantasy relevance last year and will almost certainly improve with a) another season, b) more minutes and c) being constantly forgotten by defenses scared of the other four starters.