When Doc Rivers took over as Los Angeles Clippers‘ head coach this summer, there was a lot of buzz about how it would be great for the development of star players Blake Griffin, Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan. The three would all adapt to the new systems their coach presented with open arms, signifying a change from the run-and-gun style of past seasons to a more defensive-minded half-court style.
Still, some sat back and wondered about the possibility that getting the three players to lead a change in style could be more difficult than anticipated.
After all, they were coming off of two consecutive playoff appearances, and it is certain that taking down great egos can be difficult for even the best coaches. One must only look at the Los Angeles Lakers‘ 2012-13 season to see that a coaching change and a plethora of star players does not always lead to automatic success on the court.
During opening night of the season, it appeared that the Lakers set out on making their co-tenants realize that change can be disappointing as they picked up a comprehensive 116-103 victory. Throughout the game, the Clippers looked like a team lost in transition, as they simply could not keep up with the fast-paced style that Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni forces his teams to play with.
This would have seemed like an oxymoron in past years, but it was obvious throughout the game that the Clippers were stretched out by their opponents with little answer. Chief amongst the players that looked out of sorts in their new system was the big three of Griffin, Paul and Jordan, who combined to post a -32 plus/minus while on the court.
The poor efforts of these three were highlighted in the fourth quarter as they were outscored 41-24 and lost the game to the Lakers’ bench players.
While the opening game of a season should not normally be examined too closely, it is hard to ignore the disappointing play of the Clippers’ big three as they attempted to adapt to a more defense-oriented style. The group and really the entire team looked like a lethargic bunch, seemingly a little bit down and out because they were not allowed to play the type of free-flowing style their opponents were.
Of course, some people will want to discredit this opening effort as an anomaly, but it is hard to deny that the team’s roster is best suited for exactly the opposite type of style that Rivers is trying to implement. No one will realize this more in the coming weeks than the Clippers’ big three, who will likely only become frustrated and angry with their new head coach if his strategy does not turn into wins.
If and when this happens, the result could be quite ugly, just as it was for the Lakers when things went downhill in 2012-13.