Kevin Arnovitz needs no introduction but deserves one - he is an editor for TrueHoop and a writer for ClipperBlog, the latter being one of the best team blogs in the NBA. It's safe to say, in my opinion, that Arnovitz is one of the best writers who covers the league. Period.
As such, I can't help but remark on how much I admire Arnovitz's work and state how much it was a privilege for me to ask him a few questions a couple of days ago to preview tonight's game between the Orlando Magic and the Los Angeles Clippers.
Chris Kaman got off to a quick start in the first couple weeks of November but, from looking at some of the numbers and reading some of your reports, has cooled off since then. What happened?
First, Kaman was inevitably going to come down to earth. There wasn't one 50 percent jump shooter in the NBA last season, and that's what Kaman was doing over the opening stretch of the season. Second, Eric Gordon went out with a strained groin. Gordon's absence allowed teams to sag defensively, which gave Kaman less room to work 15 feet from the basket. Third, the pressure to operate as the Clippers' primary scorer might be affecting Kaman's game. Kaman has an incredible collection of assets as a big man -- ambidexterity, good foot work, strength -- but managing those assets has always been a challenge. When Kaman was killing it earlier this season, he was thinking less. The past couple of weeks, we've witnessed his trying to think his way into a score rather than just scoring.
What has Eric Gordon meant to the Los Angeles Clippers this year, on offense and on defense?
The world. When Gordon is in the starting lineup, the Clippers crush their competition. He's the first perimeter player the Clippers have had in an eternity who can stretch the floor, create off the dribble, and defend the 2. He loves to draw contact and he's becoming increasingly effective in the pick-and-roll game. The fact that the aforementioned fall off of Mr. Kaman coincided with Gordon's absence tells you everything you need to know.
Can't forget about Blake Griffin. When he returns from injury, how do the team dynamics change?
I don't think they'll change a whole lot. Given the length of Griffin's absence, I suspect he'll begin with the second unit and claim some of Craig Smith's minutes. Mike Dunleavy has stated that he's interested in experimenting with Griffin at the 3 because the rookie can check small forward defensively, but that declaration might say more about the composition of the Clippers' roster (heavy on bigs, light on wings) than anything else. Griffin is an infectious player, so Clippers fans hope he can infuse the team with "energy," but tangibly, he'll be most valuable in elevating the Clips' rebounding rate above 50.0 percent.
Is this year, possibly, the end of the road for Mike Dunleavy Sr. as head coach/general manager? What is your opinion on his future with the franchise?
Within the organization, there's a feeling that, as badly as things have gone over the past couple of years, Head Coach Dunleavy probably deserves the chance to coach a healthy squad this season (though the supply of patience is measurably less than it used to be). Does he have a future beyond 2011? Let's see how the 2010-2011 team fares -- something that will depend greatly on how successful GM Mike Dunleavy is at leveraging the team's considerable cap space and constructing a winner.
I like to thank Kevin for taking the time to offer his insight on the Clips.