TALKING CLIPS: KEVIN PELTON
Eric Patten, Clippers.com
ESPN NBA Insider and Seattle native Kevin Pelton spoke with Eric Patten of Clippers.com during Summer League in Las Vegas. Pelton, who is considered one of the brightest analytics minds in basketball, has covered the NBA for more than a decade, including working for the Seattle Sonics, Basketball Prospecuts and providing commentary and analysis for numerous other basketball-related websites. In his conversation with Patten, Pelton talked about the Clippers’ offseason, the importance of adding a versatile backup in the front court and much more.
Here is a full transcript of the discussion:
Eric Patten, Clippers.com: Based on the moves the Clippers have made, bringing in Spencer Hawes and Jordan Farmar and losing Darren Collison, Danny Granger and Willie Green and potentially losing a couple of other guys, do you feel like they have improved?
Kevin Pelton, ESPN.com: “I think a better team. I don’t think it’s going to be a major difference at backup point guard between Collison and Farmar and I think the upgrade in the front court from the variety of guys who were playing those backup minutes behind [DeAndre] Jordan and [Blake] Griffin to Spencer Hawes is going to be pretty sizeable. He gives you a stretch dimension that you didn’t have in the front court last year unless you played guys somewhat out of position like Hedo Turkoglu or trying to do that with Stephen Jackson at times during the season or even going small with Jared Dudley. [Hawes] is a natural big guy on top of that, so that’s where I think they’ve definitely upgraded.”
EP: Doc Rivers talked about it being important to have a big that could play next to either Blake or DeAndre, why is that so important?
KP: “I think the big thing is, particularly, if you’re going to spend that kind of mid-level money on a backup big man he can’t be a one-position guy because both of those starters are going to play 35 minutes a night or more. So, to find enough minutes for a guy who is part of that rotation, I think he has to be a guy who can do both and I think Hawes can do that.”
EP: Was that the position of most need? They couldn’t pay Collison and Hawes. They had to make a decision. Was that the position they had to spend the most money?
KP: “I think so. It certainly was the biggest weakness last season. If Chris Paul is healthy, knock on wood, there’s not necessarily a ton of minutes at that position. You’ve also got Jamal Crawford, who is able to slide over and play the point at times. So, I think the Clippers have plenty of depth at that spot.”
EP: What can you say about C.J. Wilcox, being that he’s a Washington guy and you’re up there and he was there for five years? What can you say about him as a 28th overall pick?
KP: “Great shooter, great kid. Those are the two things that standout. Obviously, the first thing is no surprise. I’m sure Clippers fans have been reading up on him. He’s a knockdown 3-point shooter and that’s a thing that’s valued in this league right now. You see Anthony Morrow getting $3 million a year from the Oklahoma City Thunder and Wilcox is in that class.
“He’s also a good athlete for a guy who is a shooting specialist. Great wingspan, blocks a lot of shots on the perimeter, will compete defensively. You know, he’s not great at creating his own shot, but improved in that regard over his [five] years at Washington. That was really his biggest development and we’ll see how much he gets to showcase that.”
EP: You mention that emphasis on 3-point shooting and that seems like something that increases every year. The Clippers were a team that led the NBA scoring in points per game, but they weren’t necessarily the most efficient 3-point shooting team. Getting a guy like Hawes, getting Wilcox and perhaps Dudley getting back to where he was earlier in his career, are they potentially going to be a more potent offense next year?
KP: “It will be tough to improve too much with, like you said, already having the best offense in the league. I think where they will really shine is in the postseason. That’s where the floor’s going to close down on your star players and opponents are going to make non-shooters make shots. So, you need to have shooters out there at every spot on the floor and I think the Clippers are lot closer to doing that now.”