On the eve of the NBA season starting here in Los Angeles I wanted to take a deeper look at our two teams. Comparing the Lakers and Clippers can be a fools game of sorts. On one hand the Lakers have an incredible past filled with more NBA Championships than all but one franchise. The Clippers past, well, it’s best it stays in the past.
The more recent past however is kinder to the Clippers. In fact, it’s a clear win for the Clips. The team that originated in Buffalo and got to Los Angeles via San Diego has been the best team over the last six years. It hasn’t really been close. The Lakers in that span have been really, really bad.
Don’t take my word for it, listen to what the Process recently had to say.
When asked by Clay Skipper of GQ if he was playing the Cavs in NBA 2k18 GM mode, Joel Embiid said “Nah, they’re too good. I gotta start with a team that sucks, like the Lakers or the Nets. I gotta make it fair.” The player dubbed in the article as the future of the NBA was touting his skills as a GM in the game by bragging about being able to rebuild the Lakers. The pathetically bad Lakers.
For a lot of Lakers fans that sentence coming from Embiid was the embodiment of nails on a chalkboard.
Hard to hear, but no less true. The last few years have been rough on the purple and gold. So bad that another five years or so of bad play will mean that for a generation of fans the Lakers will be synonymous with bad basketball. The Lakers as a franchise can struggle through and accept a bad year, or two. Heck, they have done a good job of trying to right the ship after four really bad years. Carrying the tag of perennial loser however is not OK.
There are a lot of reasons the franchise wants to win and win soon, that is one of them.
Which takes me back to our deeper look/compare and contrast. I am not going to focus on either teams past or future, just their present. The Association is a league made up of stars. Whats unique about the NBA is that you must have a star to win, but in order to win that star has to be willing to assimilate into the concept of team. It really can be a delicate balance. It is a non-negotiable today that you need stars to win; alpha players, the A team.
It’s not particularly difficult to identify A players. Generally, they are the ones the casual fans know thanks to a car or soft drink commercial. In short, they are recognizable. But, what about B players, or C players. An A player cannot win without them and a collection of B and C players generally will not win without an A player.
It’s an interesting dynamic.
I like things that make sense. A, B and C players make sense. However, defining them can be tricky. This is my attempt to make it easier – to make it make sense.
An A player is one who has been to multiple All-Star games.
When I started to think this through I went with a single ASG appearance. It dawned on me then though that using that criteria Brook Lopez and Chris Kaman would have been A players. No offence to either, but they are not A players. Consistency is key, so multiple ASG appearances gets you the A grade.
A B player is one with a single ASG and/or is in the top 25 in ANY two key categories but never in an ASG.
These are the players that hit the big shots. Think Robert Horry and Steve Kerr. To make it here you have to be in the top 25 in any key category, that includes FT%, FG%, Assists, Steals and more.
Finally, the C player. He is someone who is good enough to make the top 50 in any of the same categories as the B player, but never played in an ASG.
It’s simple and it makes sense. Now, that we have the definitions in place lets see how the professional basketball teams in Los Angeles stack up. Keep in mind, you do not win in this league without a good mixture of all the above. Let’s start with the Clippers.
- Blake Griffin
- 5× NBA All-Star (2011–2015)
- DeAndre Jordan
- #9 Blocks 1.7
- #2 Rebounds 13.8
- #1 FG% 71%
- Games played 81 (Top 25)
- Danilo Gallinari
- #6 FT% 90.2,
- #43 3pg% 39%
- Patrick Beverly
- #20 Steals 1.5,
- #45 APG 4.2
- Lou Williams
- #20 FT% 88%
- #46 Pts 17.5
- Montrezl Harrell
- #4 FG% 65%
- Brook Lopez
- #29 Pts 20.5
- #8 Blocks 1.7
- Julius Randle
- #18 RPG 8.6
- #49 FG% 49%
- Jordan Clarkson
- Games Played #1 82
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
- #42 Steals 1.2
- Brandon Ingram
- #47 Games Played 79 (Top 50)