Even though it’s been quite a while since the Los Angeles Clippers were only identified by dunking and playing high flying basketball epitomized by Blake Griffin connecting with Chris Paul and getting the nickname ‘Lob City,’ there’s a good chance that with Doc Rivers now coaching the team, those days are over.
The Clippers were ranked 8th last season in the NBA in scoring off the fast break and were third in offensive efficiency, but all that changes in the playoffs and fell apart against the Memphis Grizzlies, who made it very difficult to run against them, taking away the Clippers’ greatest strength, which was forcing a fast-paced game through turnovers.
Their half court offense was mostly about Chris Paul trying to set up things on his own, but the Clippers didn’t have the shooters of offensive diversity to offer too much threat besides dunks by Griffin & Jordan, or Paul being able to split the defense through isolation. This season, the plan is to make things look very different.
Lob City doesn’t exist anymore. Lob City is done. We’re moving on and we’re going to find our identity during training camp, and that will be our new city. No more Lob City. Our offense is going to have a totally different look this year. Our offense is going to have a lot of movement and floor spacing. I’m looking forward to it.
The perception that the Clippers actually start half-court offenses looking for lobs might be a bit skewed, but there’s no doubt that one of their greatest advantages is the ability of Griffin and Jordan to grab almost anything thrown at them and turn it into a dunk. The problem is that when games slow down and there’s not much of an outside threat, that strength can’t be successfully utilized.
That is why J.J. Redick and Jared Dudley were brought in. The Clippers needed spot up scorers and an ability to spread the floor. Chris Paul can manage in any system – he’s that good of a point guard. But Blake Griffin needs some help ot help him find a bit more room in the paint and in the post, as there was too much focus and not enough movement in the Clippers’ offense under Vinny Del Negro.
We want to win. That’s one thing we always talk about. I’ve told them that lobs are great, but winning is better. Let’s try to get them both, but I understand what he’s saying. I think the message there is people look at us as a showtime team and not a winning team, and we want to be a winning team, but you can do both. I don’t think anybody is setting up a play to get a lob. Lobs happen. We have two guys that you could throw the ball anywhere. We would be crazy if we took that out of our offense. I want more lobs if we can get them. That’s two points. It’s very difficult to foul DeAndre Jordan when he’s up there for a lob pass. Half the league won’t try it, and the guys who have tried it have learned that they shouldn’t try it. We’re going to get as many as we can. We want longtime Clippers announcer Ralph Lawler saying, ‘Oh me, oh my!’
Rivers isn’t fall all the flair and glamour in basketball. He wants a strong defense, which has been up & down for the Clippers last season, and smart offense. If it means taking away the most recognizable trait of this offense in recent years, so be it – he’ll live without the highlight reels and lob city shirts.