Mid-Season Report

CLIPPERS
RECORD: 9-31 (14th in Western Conference).
SCORING LEADER:Zach Randolph (23.1 points per game).
REBOUNDING LEADER: Marcus Camby (13.8 rebounds per game).
ASSISTS LEADER: Baron Davis (8.0 assists per game).

MVP: Without a doubt, Marcus Camby. While Baron Davis has been missing in action for large chunks of the season and disappointing as a leader, Camby has continued to lead by example no matter how dire the circumstances. He’s averaging a career-high in rebounds and scoring more than anyone knew was possible. If he hadn’t hurt his ankle on Saturday, the campaign for Camby to earn an All-Star nomination would be swelling.

TOP NEWCOMER: Rookie Eric Gordon is reminding everyone of a young Mitch Richmond. Already the team’s top perimeter defender, he began to showcase an electric offensive game once joining the starting lineup at the end of November.

BIGGEST SURPRISE: When the Clippers made their blockbuster deal for Zach Randolph in mid-November, guard Mardy Collins was regarded as little more than a throw-in. But with virtually all of the Clippers backcourt on the sidelines with injuries, Collins has flourished as a starter, averaging 13.4 pints and 6.6 assists in his seven starts.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: It’s so hard to pick just one, with Ricky Davis getting hurt, then being suspended for violating the league’s drug policy; Chris Kaman’s injured foot keeping out of action since late November and Baron Davis shooting a career-low 36 percent, then missing 10 games due to injury. But considering the fanfare following Baron Davis’ free agent signing in July, this dubious distinction has to fall on him.

GUARDS: If not for promising rookies Eric Gordon and Mike Taylor, this would be, by far the team’s most disappointing area. Both Davis’ — Baron and Ricky — have posted career-worst seasons and veteran Jason Hart largely ineffectual. But Taylor was looking like one of the steals of the draft before fracturing his thumb; and Gordon looks like a future All-Star. Grade: D

FORWARDS: Second-year forward Al Thornton has had an up-and-down season, with moments of brillance and equal parts inconsistency. Zach Randolph was outstanding in the 14 games he played following his November trade, but has been hurt since December 22. Second-year man Steve Novak can shoot the lights out, but only done so a handful of times. Camby saves this group with is All-Star caliber play. Grade: B

CENTERS: Chris Kaman has been out since November 29 and was woefully inconsistent in the 15 games he played before that. Brian Skinner has proven to be a solid veteran and rookie DeAndre Jordan has shown potential. Kaman’s absence though, has hamstrung the entire team’s development. Grade: D-

COACH: Coach Dunleavy seemed to have trouble meshing his structured style with Baron Davis’ free-wheeling style early in the season, which landed the team in an early season hole. Then came the big trade for Randolph in November, further shaking up the lineup, and the injuries, which forced Dunleavy to play reserve players big minutes. Hard to evaluate at this point, but they do seem to be competing harder now than earlier in the season. Grade: D+

GENERAL MANAGER: On paper, Dunleavy and his staff have done an exceptional job of acquiring talent for virtually nothing from teams looking for salary-cap relief. That team though, has yet to take the court altogether. Also, the signings of Baron Davis and Ricky Davis and trade for Jason Hart haven’t worked well. Grade: C

LOOKING AHEAD: If the Clippers ever get healthy, they have the talent to get on a roll in the second-half of the season. That’s a big “If” though. None of their myriad injuries seems particularly bad at first, but they always seem to turn into long ordeals. The best the team can hope for is extended playing time for its young players like Gordon, Jordan, Thornton and Taylor and to get its full team back onto the court and building chemistry for next season.

Facebook Twitter Plusone Digg Reddit Stumbleupon Tumblr Email