Jamal Crawford: Clippers Are Buying In
The Los Angeles Clippers’ best summer acquisition was guard Jamal Crawford, who is leading the team in scoring off the bench with 21.2 points per game. Crawford, who spent last season with the Portland Trail Blazers, was wooed by nearly the entire team as a free agent and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to join the Clippers.
“It was a process, honestly, but those guys were the first team to call. Chris [Paul] called me, Blake [Griffin], DeAndre [Jordan], Chauncey [Billups], Coach [Vinny] Del Negro, [Vice President of Basketball Operations] Gary Sacks, pretty much the whole organization,” Crawford said. “They let me know I was a priority for them. I just saw where they were and where they were going and it seemed like a perfect fit.”
Crawford’s experience with the Blazers was disappointing, but he’s excited about what he sees in Los Angeles.
“Everybody is a family. Everybody is really close. I’ve never been on a team like that and I think that’s very rare,” Crawford said. “You have seven new faces and you have guys who have done a lot in their careers, but everybody buys in.”
The veteran guard credits the team’s trip overseas during the preseason for helping to develop a strong chemistry in the locker room.
“I think going to China helped that,” Crawford said. “You spend a lot of time together with just you and your teammates and the coaching staff. Everybody pulls for each other and you get a chance to get to know a person away from basketball. When you care about them off the court, you’ll run through a wall for them on the court.”
If there’s something missing, Crawford said it’s simple.
“Get everybody healthy,” Crawford said. “We haven’t seen everybody healthy yet. Once we get that, everybody can get settled and get comfortable with each other, I think our team will take off. But until then we have to continue to build. There’s going to be setbacks in the season, you have to admit it, but no team can go 82-0. You have to bounce back from it.”
Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill are both nearing their season debuts, although the Clippers are deep enough that they can afford to be patient.
“He’s feeling good, his Achilles’s is feeling good,” Del Negro said of Billups. “His back is feeling good. He’s been working out a lot but there’s no timetable.”
Lamar Odom hasn’t missed a game yet, but he’s still working his way back into game shape after a preseason knee injury.
“He’s healthy, he just has to get in better condition,” Del Negro said of Odom. “He just has to be more effective when he’s out there. We need to Lamar to play at a higher level.”
Griffin is playing through a right elbow injury (bursa sac), but it hasn’t slowed him down.
“His elbow is feeling a little bit better,” Del Negro said. “He’s got a pretty good stiff neck as well. It’s early enough and Blake has fought through other injuries before.”
The Clippers have overcome these early injuries and experienced success through five games. Crawford’s contributions are a big reason for that, but he’s right when he says that the best is yet to come for the Clippers.
DeAndre Jordan: X-Factor
DeAndre Jordan may have given his best performance as a pro against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday night, scoring 20 points on 10-12 shooting with 11 rebounds, four blocks and two steals.
“We still remember what they did to us a couple of months again so that was also some extra motivation,” Jordan said after the game.
“When DeAndre is on his game, he’s tough,” Blake Griffin said. “He can score. He can catch anything four feet above the rim, no matter where it is. He can alter, block shots and just intimidate people.”
Jordan put in a lot work over the offseason to improve his game, but the results are still up and down despite his team-high 73.5 percent field-goal percentage.
“He has to bring that energy to every game, no matter who we’re playing or how physical the game is, or how many fouls he has,” said Coach Vinny Del Negro. “He has to control the paint as best as he can for us.”
Jordan’s teammates know how important the young center is to the club.
“He’s definitely our X-Factor and he knows it,” Chris Paul said. “He is a huge piece of this team. I have said this before, that when I come out of the game, we have Eric [Bledsoe] off the bench, so there is no drop off. When DeAndre comes of the game, we lose a lot. We lose his energy on the offensive end and the defensive end. He is one of our most valuable players and we definitely need him on the court.”