For the past six seasons, Chris Paul has been the engine that kept the Los Angeles Clippers train moving, the initiator of Lob City highlights, and arguably the team’s most important player. But, now he’s gone, so what are the Clippers odds for the next season?
Of course, Blake Griffin, fresh off a five-year $173 million extension, and DeAndre Jordan AKA The Lobees are still there. And both are exciting finishers, but will they have a point guard like Paul who will be able to get them the ball the way CP3 did?
What do the Clippers lose with Paul being traded to the Houston Rockets for several players, a top three-protected draft pick in next year’s NBA Draft, and money? A lot. Chris Paul led the team in assists (9.2 APG), steals (2.0 SPG), free throw percentage (89.2), PER (26.2), and was second on the team in scoring (18.1 PPG), three-pointers made per game (2.0), and Win Shares (10.6), as well as third in rebounding (5.0 RPG). It’s going to be hard to replace those numbers for a team that finished 51-31 last season.
However, the Clippers may have the answer, or rather, the answers in Patrick Beverley (the assumed replacement for Paul who was part of the trade package the Clippers got back), as well as 30-year-old rookie, Milos Teodosic, who had been dubbed the best player in the world not in the NBA per a poll of NBA coaches, and a passing maestro that may be as close to Chris Paul as a player could get. Will this point guard duo be enough for the Clippers to survive the loss of CP3?
The answer would be a little easier if some Clippers fan that was also a mad scientist could put both Beverley and Teodosic together to form one player, but alas, morally questionable bioengineering isn’t a part of this equation.
In Beverley, the Clippers have one of the best defensive players in the league, being named to the All Defensive first team just last season when he averaged a career-best 1.5 steals and 5.9 rebounds per game. However, stats don’t really tell the whole story for Beverley as he is known for being a 94-foot pest on the ball, and is very good at it. Offensively, he averaged 9.5 points, 4.2 assists, and 1.6 triples a game, shooting 42.0 percent from the floor and 76.8 percent from the line. Decent, but relative to points and dimes, he’s half the player Chris Paul is, and a much worse shooter.
Teodosic could be a real wild card for the Clippers in a very positive way. Yes, he’s a 30-year-old NBA rookie from Serbia, which doesn’t scream potential, but it does scream experience. He’s been a professional basketball player for 12 years already, starting when most American kids are looking forward to prom. He’s played in the Euroleague, which is the best league in the world after the NBA. Teodosic has been named the Euroleague MVP in 2010, is a six-time All Euroleague player (three 1st teams; three 2nd teams), has won championships, and playoff MVPs multiple times. Just last season, he averaged 16.1 points, 6.8 assists, 2.7 threes made, and shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 89.7 percent from the charity stripe. Offensively, he’ll be able to hang. An added bonus – at 6’5″, Teodosic will also be able to play the two-guard position and share the floor with Beverley. Some negatives to think about is the considerably shorter international schedule; for example, he’s never played more than 48 games in a season and only played 29 last season. Teodosic is also very bad at defense.
So, will the Clippers survive without Chris Paul? Considering Griffin and Jordan still being there and the above-mentioned duo being in the Clippers fold, it’s very likely. But, then the question becomes will they thrive? Time will tell.