Last night, I attended the Clippers open scrimmage at the USC Galen Center, the second year they've held it at that venue. It was a chance for the fans to be introduced to every member of the team and see how far they've progressed since last season ended and training camp opened. The following is a brief analysis of what I saw from most of the guys on the roster:
Blake Griffin: Blake was his usual self - throwing down vicious dunks, rebounding, hustling and diving for loose balls. Except there was a noticeable difference in his shot. Gone is the hitch that haunted him last year at the free-throw line. Also, his midrange jumper looked smoother. It's safe to say he won't be as much as a liability down the stretch as he was last year.
DeAndre Jordan: The biggest difference in DeAndre was his confidence in the post. He looked like he wanted the ball and was aggressive in making his move. He had a pretty sweet spin move, a nice sidestep fingeroll, and a short bankshot. However, he was susceptible to guards picking him off from the blindside. Other than that, he definitely improved his post game. Putting it into game action is the next step.
Lamar Odom: The first thing I noticed was that he had already lost some weight since Media Day. Historically, Lamar has waited until training camp to work his way into shape, which is not necessarily a good thing, but it seems he will be ready to go very soon. He had the task of guarding Griffin and immediately, there was a friendly rivalry brewing. they were tussling with each other for position, throwing elbows, joking around, it just seemed there was a chemistry with them. Odom looked comfortable and at peace on the court, which is probably more than could be said about him at any time last season.
Jamal Crawford: Pretty much what I expected - amazing ballhandling, nifty passer(he had a sick behind-the-back bounce pass to Barnes on the break), and hitting shots off the dribble. If he can get back to the Atlanta Hawks version of Jamal Crawford, he'll be a huge boost to the bench.
Matt Barnes: His shot looked good, as he drained a couple of threes. Just another live body out there for defense and hitting open shots. Oh, and he and DeAndre are a one-two punch as far as class clowns go.
Eric Bledsoe: The progression from his rookie year until is incredible. Plays much more under control, and at times can look like the best player on the court. Did pretty much what was expected yesterday, which is penetration, perimeter defense, creating and rebounding.
Willie Green: Strong guard, 3pt shot looks good, should get plenty of looks with Clippers' PG crop.
Travis Leslie: He played well, hit open shots, can penetrate and finish. The problem is, with so much depth, he won't get any PT.
Ryan Hollins: Another big body. High energy guy. Not much more to expect really.
Ronny Turiaf: See Hollins, Ryan.
Grant Hill, Chauncey Billups, Trey Thompkins and Chris Paul sat out. Everyone but Hill were nursing injuries. I am assuming they decided to give Hill some rest.
All in all, the team looked good. Offensively, they were sloppy as Blake Griffin acknowledged. But defensively, they were everywhere, playing passing lines and post defense. Looks like we're in for a treat this season.