It’ll be Splash Bros. against the Smash Bros. It’s a battle between the NBA’s premier finishers – DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin – against the NBA’s premier shooters – Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. It could be three of the top five players in the NBA, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Stephen Curry, competing for the same playoff spot. It would be excellent television; Warriors-Clippers would be the Breaking Bad of playoff basketball.
In the spirit of the Adam Silver administration, it must be pointed out that nothing would be more marketable than a potential matchup between Golden State and Los Angeles. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul constitute approximately 98 percent of all NBA related commercials, and are among the NBA’s most recognizable players. The playoff series offers excitement, with high-flying dunks and hot shooting, and nothing is more exciting than watching sheer athleticism, and quick changes of score.
If you’re looking for talent, look no further. Chris Paul is the best point guard in the league, and has been for a while. He’s averaging a ridiculous 11.3 assists on a more ridiculous 50.2% assist rate. In other words, when Chris Paul is on the floor, every other Clippers’ field goal ends with a Chris Paul assist. The Warriors’ own Stephen Curry comes second at a distant, but still preposterous 40 percent assist rate, and a 28 percent usage rate. Approximately two-thirds of every Warriors possession ends with a Curry shot attempt, or assist opportunity, revealing just how critical these two point guards are. Curry isn’t the passer that Paul is, but he’s confidently on the top of the next tier, and holds rank as the best scoring point guard in the league. He’s a historically good shooter, and has the quickness and agility to get into the lane.
Blake Griffin has taken another step forward this season, flashing MVP potential and carrying the team while Paul sat out with an injury. He’s dominant in the post, and a talented passer, and has a highlight reel that still gives Timofey Mozgov nightmares. DeAndre Jordan didn’t become an elite defender, but he gets his share of blocks and rebounds at Drummond-esque rate. They’re matched up against Bogut, an elite defender, and Lee, a dominant rebounder and scorer. While more talented, the Clippers front-court doesn’t mesh as well as the Warriors; Jordan’s inability to shoot has been pushing Griffin away from the basket, where he is most comfortable and dominant.
The rest of the team is filled out with knockdown shooters like new acquisition Danny Granger, Klay “statue-face” Thompson and J.J. Reddick. The Crawfords are also electric scorers, capable of getting capable of getting to the rim, or juking players out of their shoes. They catch fire from deep often, and their offensive antics make-up for their defensive liabilities. Every team in the playoffs is talented, but this particular matchup brings a lot to the table.
It was just a few years ago that the Clippers and the Warriors were at the bottom of the league. The Clippers picked up Griffin, and through some David Stern-related serendipity, they picked up their second star in Chris Paul. The Warriors were on the downswing and overused Monta Ellis on a terrible team. But solid drafting (and tanking), resulting in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes, combined with a couple of blockbuster trades, for Andrew Bogut, Andre Iguodala, the Warriors got back into contention.
In reality, neither team would have reached their place without their coach. Del Negro was a bit over-criticized, but the Clipper definitely upgraded when they picked up Doc Rivers. In particular, their defense adapted well to Doc’s strong-side defense, and got DeAndre Jordan to actually develop. The Warriors somehow evolved into an elite defensive team while playing David Lee and Stephen Curry the bulk of the minutes, but Andrew Bogut has been a dark-horse DPOY candidate, and Andre Iguodala has brought his characteristic “glue-guy”, “non-statsheet” intangibles and defense.
But really this series is great because of one thing; they hate each other. There really hasn’t been a rivalry like this in a decade. And that should be enough to get you to tune in.
Tags: Golden State Warriors