The injury bug has bitten again in Los Angeles. Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul left Friday night’s game in the third quarter with a separated shoulder and is expected to miss 3-5 weeks because of the injury. The incident occurred with about seven minutes left in the quarter when Paul drove past the right elbow, tripped and fell after being fouled by Dallas Mavericks guard Monta Ellis. Paul would not return to the game.
The injury comes as a huge blow to Doc Rivers and the Clippers, who are losing the best point guard in the league from their lineup. Paul is averaging 19.6 points to go along with 4.7 rebounds and a league-leading 11.3 assists per game. Paul is way more important to his team other than the impressive numbers he puts up, though. He is a floor general who is responsible for managing the entire game for his team, and much of the Clippers’ offense is run through the guard.
Rivers is going to have to look anywhere and everywhere on the roster to make up for Paul’s lost production. This means that DeAndre Jordan, who has done a great job of rebounding and playing defense, is going to have to step up his offensive game. While he is shooting over 64 percent from the field, Jordan can do little else but catch lob alley-oops and finish put-back dunks.
Jordan is incredibly fun to watch at times on offense, but he does not do a good job of creating shots for himself. It will be interesting to see if DJ, who is averaging only 8.9 points per game, will be able to ramp up his scoring even without Paul on the floor.
Darren Collison, who will presumably be starting for the Clippers while Paul is nursing his shoulder, will also need to be more aggressive in scoring for the Clips. Collison posted 20 points on 6-of-10 shooting in 35 minutes in the win over the Mavericks, which is a good sign looking forward for the Clippers’ offense.
So far on the season, Collison is shooting a solid 45 percent from the field, a number he will need to maintain or increase to even come close to mimicking Paul’s value on the floor. Luckily for Rivers, Collison has been playing fantastic defense this season, so they will probably not lose too much on that end of the floor in terms of point guard play.
Along with these two players, Blake Griffin will have to put in extra effort and Jared Dudley will have to continue to make threes if the Clippers want to remain competitive in the Western conference.