Found December 31, 2012 on
Fox Sports West:
Vinny Del Negro
Golden State Warriors
Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Lakers
New York Knicks
San Antonio Spurs
Happy New Year to everyone. I think we are all very excited to see how the rest of the NBA season unfolds and if the Clippers will ever lose again...tongue-in-cheek of course, but it is very exciting to see this team emerge as one of the best in the league right before our eyes. Here are my thoughts, notes and musings for the first week of 2013.
Coach of the year talk
As we head into the new year, I thought it would be appropriate to look at coach of the year candidates. As I started to make my list, the usual suspects emerged as top candidates. The New York Knicks' Mike Woodson has done a marvelous job transforming the hot shooting Knicks into a defensive-minded team that currently leads the Eastern Conference. Oklahoma City's Scott Brooks has continued his team's winning ways even with the loss of James Harden. The San Antonio Spurs' Gregg Popovich is probably the best overall coach in the NBA and has done nothing to disprove that this year. Golden State's Mark Jackson has brought a strong-minded defensive mentality to a surprisingly good Warriors team. Chicago's Tom Thibodeau has kept the Bulls relevant even though his centerpiece Derrick Rose is still out with injury. Miami's Eric Spoelstra continues to guide last year's champion, the star-studded Heat into another very good year. But the runaway candidate in my opinion is Los Angeles Clippers own Vinny Del Negro.
Del Negro's work began in the summer when he and Clippers point guard Chris Paul had a great deal to do with putting together this current Clippers roster. He has a great relationship with players and adroitly tapped Paul for who would integrate the best with the Clippers very solid returning core group.
The Clippers currently have the best record in the NBA at 25-6 and are on the longest win streak, currently 17 games, since the Boston Celtics won 19 a row from Nov. 15 to Dec. 23, 2008. Of the previous 22 teams to win at least 16 consecutive games, 17 of them advance to the NBA finals. Their 25-6 start also is the best start in franchise history by a significant margin. During the month of December, their average margin of winning was 15-plus points per game. The closest comparison to this current Clippers team is the 1980s Showtime Lakers, at least according to Magic Johnson, who piloted those Pat Riley-led teams.
All the accolades for this great start have gone to the Clippers stars and to their exceptionally deep bench. But no team wins this many games without great game planning and great game management.
Del Negro has done a tremendous job putting his players in a position to succeed. The plays that they run are expertly designed to maximize his players exceptional talents. On a team with so many good players, he has done a very good job of managing minutes. His stars are well rested and his bench is happy. That is no easy task in today's NBA.
He has been very patient bringing the multitalented Lamar Odom back from the abyss. Managing his minutes carefully, he has preserved Odoms confidence and made him a solid bench contributor. Del Negro has also dealt with the injuries of veterans Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill, who were supposed to be major contributors this year.
The Clippers have a defensive mentality that comes directly from their coach. With such a star-studded team, the wins would be there on some level. It is the way the Clippers are winning that is important. Every night they come out and play great defense. They currently lead the NBA in steals and at any moment in the game is poised to have a significant run sparked by a tremendous defensive effort.
The Clippers are hands down the most fun and exciting team that I have ever seen in my 30 years of NBA basketball. All these spectacular plays are backed by a solid foundation provided by their coach. None of the league-leading fast-break points or spectacular dunks would be possible without a great defensive game plan and consistent defensive effort.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Clippers assistant coaching staff. This includes ex-NBA players and veteran coaches Mark Iavaroni, Robert Pack and Bob Ociepka. Assistant coaches are major contributors to game planning and player development.
Del Negro may be the most underrated NBA Coach of the year candidate I have ever seen. If this current winning streak continues, that may not be the case much longer.
The Clippers owner Donald Sterling has, in the past, not always received the best of press. He has been blamed publicly when the Clippers have had poor records. So why has he not been getting more credit for putting this team together when the Clippers have the best record in the NBA?
He has okayed the acquisition and contracts of Odom, Jamaal Crawford and Matt Barnes. He has paid handsomely to keep Billups. He also just signed Blake Griffin to a five-year maximum extension. The Clippers currently have the 11th largest payroll in the NBA. From experience, I can tell you ownership many times has very little to do with the poor performance of the team. But they have a great deal to do with hiring the right personnel and spending the money to sign the right players. Both of which Sterling has done.
Clippers President Andy Roeser has always done an excellent job on the business operations side of the Clippers. These last couple years, he has expanded his role to help with basketball operations. He has also done a great job of making the Clipper games atmosphere one of the most entertaining in all sports.
So, maybe it is time to look at giving Sterling some credit in putting together a fabulous Clippers team.
A couple of weeks ago when I wrote my MVP article, I said that the MVP race came down to four candidates. Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony were listed, in that order, as the top candidates for MVP honors this year. I did mention about 10 other names, including the Clippers Griffin and Paul.
Because of the Clippers undefeated December, their NBA longest winning streak and the NBAs best record, move Paul to the head of the MVP list. Ever since he got to the Clippers, he has transformed the organization into a winning machine. This year he has taken his game and the Clippers to a whole new level. He became the third youngest to achieve 5,000 career assists on Dec. 19. He is second in the NBA with 283 total assists and averaging 9.4 assists per game. So far he has committed only 64 turnovers, which translates to first in the NBA with 4.4 assist to turnover ratio. He is also first in the NBA with 79 steals and leading in steals per game at 2.63. He was named Western Conference Player of the Week for the week of Dec. 17 - 23. If he is not the player of the month for the NBA, I would be shocked. Given his leadership and overall contribution to the NBAs-best Los Angeles Clippers, he must be the top MVP candidate.
Fantasy tip of the week
As teams are starting to figure out where they are in the playoff picture, look for them to start adjusting the minutes of their players. The teams that are seemingly headed in the wrong direction may start to limit the minutes of their veterans and play their youth. Teams that are in the playoff race will start to solidify their rotations. Young players may get fewer minutes in these cases and veterans may start to play more. So as you're picking your players for the upcoming weeks, start to look at records of teams and where they fit into the playoff picture.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
The Los Angeles Clippers will not be denied. Their current winning streak is no longer exclusively about circus plays and highlight reels.
\As a strong team with a deep bench, the Clippers are playing tremendous fundamental basketball.
Let’s look at some of their best moments as-of-late.
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The Los Angeles Clippers are flying high right now, quite literally.The Clippers just wrapped up an undefeated month (16-0) and their 17th straight victory after racing past the visiting Utah Jazz, 107-96, on Sunday night.Chris Paul dished out a team-high nine assists for the home team, including one right here to teammate DeAndre Jordan.The duo hooked up for a monster alley oop...
The Los Angeles Clippers are the hottest team in the NBA right now, going for their 17th straight win tonight against the Utah Jazz, their superstar Chris Paul made sure he looked extra sharp for game night. Chris added a modernistic twist to formal wear, clothe in a $974 Ralph Lauren Black label Double breasted blazer, spruced up with a $117 Theory chambray collar shirt, checkered...
Jamal Crawford scored 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Utah Jazz 107-96 on Sunday night for their 17th consecutive victory, becoming the third team in NBA history to record a perfect month.
The Clippers went 16-0 in December to join the 1995-95 San Antonio Spurs and 1971-72 Lakers as the only teams to go undefeated over a month. Their...
Having wrapped up December with just the third 16-0 month in NBA history, the Los Angeles Clippers face tough challenges starting the new year.
They'll play four games this week, with two opponents having winning records and the other at .500. The Clippers take their franchise-record 17-game winning streak into Denver on Tuesday, where the Nuggets are 9-1 at home.
Since the Los Angeles Clippers played a basketball game last night, you knew that we were going to have at least one Blake Griffin highlight to show you.Check out this replay of Blake doing a between-the-legs dunk during pregame:
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Jamal Crawford scored 11 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter and the Los Angeles Clippers beat the Utah Jazz 107-96 on Sunday night for their 17th consecutive victory, becoming the third team in NBA history to record a perfect month.
The Clippers went 16-0 in December to join the 1995-95 San Antonio Spurs and 1971-72 Lakers as the only teams to go undefeated...
LOS ANGELES -- The way things are going for the Los Angeles Clippers, even a disappearing act by Blake Griffin is not enough to stop the magic. Not with Caron Butler and Jamal Crawford able to pull a rabbit out of a hat in a moment's notice. Butler scored 29 points, including 17 in the first quarter, and Crawford dominated the fourth quarter as the Clippers picked up their...
"And that girl, and that girl, and that girl, and that girl and her mom, and that girl..."Last time we checked in on Chris Paul’s adorable young son, he was giving us a good laugh at his dad’s expense, as CP3 asked him, “Who dunks?” to which he replied, “Blake!” The question, of course, came after the elder Paul threw down an impressive two-handed Phi Slamma...
LOS ANGELES -- Caron Butler scored 29 points, and the Los Angeles Clippers made a late surge to pick up their 17th consecutive win, 107-96 victory over the Utah Jazz on Sunday night at Staples Center. After barely eking out wins in two previous matchups with the Jazz this season -- including a 116-114 victory at Utah on Friday night -- the Clippers survived a brutal third-quarter...
The Los Angeles Clippers lost to the Denver Nuggets last night, snapping their 17-game winning streak.
The Clippers had just gone 16-0 through the month of December. They're currently 25-7 overall, one half-game behind the Oklahoma City Thunder for the NBA's best record.
As their streak increased from eight wins, to 10, to 14, the legend of how Cleveland beat LA...
The Los Angeles Clippers look to get their 17th straight victory tonight as they host the Utah Jazz. This is the second time in three days the two teams have met, with Utah losing a close one at home 116-114. The Jazz had a 19-point third quarter lead, but saw it slip away as Chris Paul took over down the stretch. Can Utah get back to .500 tonight?
AccuScore doesn’t seem to think...
The Los Angeles Clippers had their 17 game winning streak snapped Tuesday night after a 92-78 loss to Denver. The Nuggets who essentially led the whole way took a 16 point lead into the final quarter after JaVale McGee was able to hit a three pointer as time expired in the third. Not to mention [...]
The first day of 2013 brought a different result for the Los Angeles Clippers than the final month of 2012, and the next several days in this new year might not be much easier.
After the franchise's longest win streak came to an end, the Clippers continue their challenging stretch with Wednesday night's visit to the Golden State Warriors, the first of two matchups in four...
Utah Jazz (15-16) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (24-6)
On Friday night, the Jazz raced out to a 16-point lead and seemed like they would be able to end the Clippers now 16-game win streak. It was the first time in a while the Los Angeles bench did not lead the way as Blake Griffin and Chris Paul were the guys driving the ship.
It was Paul leading the way to the finish...