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NBA@2: Injuries To Claim the LA Clippers Next?
Posted By Bill Ingram On May 10, 2012 @ 2:00 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
The lead was 24 points, but the Los Angeles Clippers weren’t discouraged. In fact, it was the Memphis Grizzlies who started hanging their heads, holding the ball and looking like the beaten team.
For some reason, riding an enormous lead for the second time in their first round series, the Grizzlies had the upper hand and yet managed to look utterly defeated.
Instead of continuing to attack, the Grizzlies started playing extremely timid basketball, and focused more of their attention on the refs who were bailing them out for half-hearted play than on the opponents who were desperately seeking to end their season.
And then fate stepped in, as it has already done so many times in 2011-12. A postseason that is already proceeding without Dwight Howard, Derrick Rose, Iman Shumpert, Josh Smith (briefly) and a number of others nearly added Blake Griffin and Chris Paul to the growing list. Griffin sprained his left knee after getting tangled up with Marc Gasol, and Paul strained his right hip flexor, making it all but impossible for him to play the second half of the fourth quarter.
To their credit, the rest of the Clippers – led by Mo Williams – stayed on the attack, but in the end it wasn’t enough. With Griffin hobbled and Paul looking on from the bench, the Clippers lost a 12-point decision to Memphis.
The Clippers are still very much in the driver’s seat, but with Griffin undergoing an MRI on his knee today and Paul’s status in question, will they be the next team to drop out of the 2012 playoffs due entirely to injuries?
It’s clearly been a disappointing postseason for Memphis already, no matter what happens in this series. After taking command of Game 1 early, they allowed the Clippers to take the win right out from under them. The same nearly happened last night in what was an elimination game. The team that met the San Antonio Spurs head-on last year is hardly the team we’ve seen in this series, despite the fact that they were much-improved during the regular season.
Life doesn’t hand down many second chances, but last night the Grizzlies got one. Will they now approach the rest of this series and the playoffs with a sense of urgency? If they don’t, it will take more than a couple of injured opposing players to get them out of the first round.
Roy Hibbert and the Houston Rockets?
Once upon a time the Houston Rockets considered drafting Roy Hibbert with the 25th overall pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, and in the process told him that if they did draft him he should be prepared to spend a year or two in the NBA Developmental League. That didn’t turn out to be an option, of course, as Hibbert was taken by the Toronto Raptors at 17 and then traded to Indiana. He wasn’t amazing in his first two seasons, but he was certainly more productive than your average D-League player.
It’s interesting, then, that the Rockets are now the subject of rumors surrounding Hibbert.
Hibbert, of course, is now an All-Star center, and while he is far from the best center in the NBA, he is among the best. The Pacers value him highly, and since he’s a restricted free agent this summer they have the ability to match any offer to their prized big man. Sources close to the situation tell HOOPSWORLD that any reasonable offer will be matched, but that if a team like Houston decides Hibbert is worth a max contract the Pacers would probably have to take a long look at that.
The Rockets are not a team that traditionally overpays for talent, not under current GM Daryl Morey. They have a detailed and meticulous way of valuing players based upon stats and projections, a method that does not allow for maxing out a player like Hibbert. As good as Roy has been, he’s not someone who is going to be worth a contract in the neighborhood of $14 million to start. His qualifying offer for next season is roughly $3.65 million, and while he will likely double that amount, the Pacers aren’t sure he’s someone who can be a consistent 20 and 10 player, which is what it would take for him to be in the maximum contract discussion.
If the Rockets want to break with their long-term gameplan and offer Hibbert a max contract based on a “hope” that he will become a game-changer, they could possibly lure him away from Indiana. But any offer that Hibbert receives that’s anywhere close to his real value, his value as a 12 and 9 type of player, will be matched.
The Pacers expect Roy Hibbert to be in their starting lineup for years to come.
The Eighth Pick In the 2012 NBA Draft
If the NBA Draft Lottery goes as the odds say they should (which it rarely does), the Toronto Raptors should have the eighth overall pick in this summer’s NBA draft. Assuming they actually do land the eighth pick, which player best fits their needs?
HOOPSWORLD’s latest Mock Draft has HOOPSWORLD’s four mock drafters all selecting completely different players, so let’s take a look at which would be the best fit in Toronto.
Terrence Jones, Perry Jones and Jared Sullinger are all tabbed as possible picks for the Raptors, but given that we had Jones possibly going to Golden State yesterday, and the Raptors lack of a need in the paint, where Sullinger roams, let’s take a look at the player who would best fill Toronto’s biggest hole: small forward.
The Raptors have a great deal of interest in UNC’s Harrison Barnes, and if they move up in the draft he is their likely pick, but the next best small forward after Barnes and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in the class is unquestionably Kentucky’s Terrence Jones.
Jones is actually capable of playing both forward positions, standing 6’9″ and weighing in at 249 pounds. His footwork, versatility, ability to put the ball on the floor and create, and his ability to shoot from outside make him a prime candidate for the three. Despite seeing fewer touches last season due to an influx of higher-priority scorers, Jones ranked in the 78th percentile scoring in isolation, 74th when posting up, and 70th in spot-up situation, so he can hurt opposing teams in a number of different ways.
He has also shown an ability to guard multiple positions, which would make him an invaluable piece of the defensive-minded Dwane Casey’s lineup. He ranked in the 94th percentile in defending through screens, 95th in pick-and-roll, 86th in defending against isolation plays and 81st in defending spot-up shooters and 71st in post-up. Jones is an outstanding defensive player.
As is the case with so many young players, Jones’ motor is in question. He has a tendency to get discouraged and take plays off, a behavior that John Calipari often rewarded with an early trip to the bench. It will be important for the Raptors to get a good feel for who Jones might be going forward as they go through the work out and interview process.
Due diligence is the key to making the right pick in the draft, no matter which spot you’re choosing, and it will be even more crucially important for Toronto this year. They are poised to be one of the most-improved teams in the NBA in 2012-13, and the player they choose in this year’s draft will be a huge part of that improvement.
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