Clippers Starting Five

By: Dennis Rogers

A solid starting five is a rare feat in the NBA. Injuries, competition for a position and change in coaching/players occur to stall teams in deciding who their starting five players to take the court each night will be. The 2014-15 Clippers look to have their starting five solidified as the regular season nears.

Training Camp Coverage

Back for a second year is head coach Doc Rivers and shooting guard JJ Redick. Back for his third season is small forward Matt Barnes. Back for a fourth straight season is the core of Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul. The lineup of Barnes, Griffin, Jordan, Paul and Redick only started four games last season (3-1 record). That was mostly due to injuries. Paul missed 20 games, Redick missed 46 games and Barnes missed 16 games.

“I think the biggest thing that is different this training camp is familiarity,” Paul said after the team’s first practice. “We know what we want, we are familiar with the system and everyone understands their roles.”

With Jamal Crawford excelling in a sixth man role, the starting five looks to be intact as the team moves forward to the regular season. We break down each starting position below on the team.

Point Guard, Chris Paul

Paul continues to be labeled as the “NBA’s best point guard,” in most NBA minds. Coming off his seventh All-Star season, Paul was an All-NBA First Team member for the third straight season and led the league in assists (10.7) and steals (2.5). Paul is focused on the next level for this Clippers team.

Shooting Guard, JJ Redick

Redick was a huge acquisition for the team in the summer of 2013. As one of the best shooters in the league, Redick is a vital weapon for the team to have on the wing. Teams are less likely to help on Griffin and Paul due to Redick’s shooting ability. Problem was, last season was injury-plagued for the former Duke All-American. Redick missed 46 games last season, but is in top shape coming into camp this season…and healthy. Redick prides himself on off-season conditioning through healthy eating, yoga and strenuous work-outs. When he was on the court last season, the team excelled. He averaged 15.2 points and knocked down 40% of his threes.

Small Forward, Matt Barnes

The former UCLA standout has been a key factor for the Clippers the last two seasons. After being in and out of the starting lineup last season (started 40 of the 63 games he played), Barnes looks to solidify himself as the starting small forward on the team. He averaged 9.9 points last season, but his biggest attribute for the team is his toughness and defense. He often guards the best player on the opposing team, an important role when it comes to the playoffs and the likes of Kevin Durant, James Harden and Manu Ginobili.

Power Forward, Blake Griffin

Domination, excelled, eye-opener. Three words that best described Griffin’s season in 2013-14. Griffin averaged 24.1 points and 9.5 rebounds in 80 games, nearly won MVP at the All-Star Game by pouring in 38 points and was third in the MVP race. It was his dominance and leadership when Paul went down to injury that really made an impact for the team to not lose a step in winning 57 games. He went on a stretch of scoring 20+ points in a franchise-high 31 games. He had career-highs in points, free throwing shooting (.715), assists (3.9) and steals (1.2). Dominating stats has never been a problem for Griffin, over his first four seasons, he has averaged 21.4 points and 10.1 rebounds.

Center, DeAndre Jordan

Jordan had a career year last season for the team. He collected career-highs in points (10.4), rebounds (13.6), blocks (2.5), steals (1.0) and minutes (35.0). In addition, he played in all 82 games (his third straight season appearing in every regular season game). The trust Rivers put in Jordan played a large role in his major step towards being one of the top centers in the NBA. Jordan played 10.5 more minutes a game than the previous season. With his familiarity with Doc’s system and another year together with Griffin and Paul, Jordan should once again be a major force down low for the team.

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