Dust Settling, and it Looks Like Lakers over Clippers

As the dust settles on the great expanse of Southern California professional basketball, from my vantage point it looks like the new-look Lakers have come out ahead in the overhauls they and the Clippers have undergone this off-season.

The Lakers not only improved significantly by ridding themselves of the egotistical “I-Am-The-Team” laughing man, Deee-Wight Howard, but also the meta tag artest psycho thingy – GOOD RIDDANCE, finally! Also gone are a few bodies who never developed over a couple of seasons that did include a few promising minutes. This included the likes of Darius Morris, Devin Ebanks, and Andrew Goudelock. Gone too are some one-season veterans who were also part of last seasons’ major problems, notably Antawn Jamison and Chris Duhon. The one guy that would have had a decent future with the team and that will be missed, is Earl Clark.

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The team has three major additions, so far, and one is a major winner, one a major loser, and the third can be anything. A healthy Chris Kaman will be a better player for the Lakers that Howard was. He plays good defense, is a good rebounder, and while he won’t be putting up any 3-pointers, he has significantly more range than the one foot from the basket that Howard had. Conversely, for whatever insane reason, the team also signed former Clipper and trojan brain surgeon, nick young. young never met a horrendous shot he didn’t love, and will be seen shooing his usual below-average 40% from the field, and 3-pointers in the low 30s, if even that. Unfortunately, there is nothing else

he can do on the basketball court but shoot, and as mentioned, he is pretty bad at that. Wesley Johnson, the fourth pick in the draft by Minnesota in 2010, has been an underachiever over his three NBA season, but has loads of talent, and he could thrive in the Mike D’Antoni system. Johnson could prove to be a brilliant pickup and he should get the call at the starting three spot replacing the psycho. Finally, rumors abound that guard Jordan Farmar may return from his season in Turkey, and rejoin the Lakers. That would be another major addition.

The Clippers made a lot of noise, but ultimately did little on the player front, accomplishing only a bump at head coach, with their deal for Doc Rivers. After weeks of rumors regarding Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and maybe even Tommy Heinsohn, the best they could do was give up a great young all-around talent in Eric Bledsoe, plus Caron Butler, in exchange for JJ Reddick and Jared Dudley. I do not see that as an improvement. Also gone are Chauncey Billups, Lamar Odom, and Grant Hill. Bledsoe and Butler, along with Billups and Odom, will be sorely missed.

The team also signed Darren Collison who will be a solid backup to Chris Paul, but who is no Bledsoe on defense. The streak-shooting Reddick is too similar to Jamal Crawford, and even Willie Green, and will have to be a more consistent shooter than he has previously been to keep much playing time. Playing a little defense would also help. I do not see Dudley as an improvement over Butler.

All in all, the Clippers now have a successful, veteran coach, but much less of a talent-laden roster than they had last year, and while they should still have little problem putting the ball in the hoop, their lock-down, dominant defense just will not be the same.

Offseason report card: Lakers B+, Clippers C-.

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