It may be early in the new year but the Los Angeles Clippers are already suffering, as star point guard Chris Paul suffered a shoulder injury this past Friday, when the Clippers faced-off against the Dallas Mavericks.
It was ESPN’s Marc Stein who provides the diagnosis from head coach Doc Rivers:
At this point in time, it’s still up in the air on the severity of Paul’s injury or how long he could be sidelined. According to ESPN, the Clippers confirmed that Paul will be examined in Los Angeles on Sunday and Monday. After that, the team will provide an update on the injury and a recovery schedule but it doesn’t change the fact, that the Clippers will have to play without him for a while.
Which leads to the question of, what must the Clippers do now without Paul?
Honestly, it all goes back to others stepping up in Paul’s absence, starting with point guard Darren Collison. The Clippers rely on Paul for a number of things but one of the main things they rely on, is his ability to create and make his teammates better. While Collison doesn’t have to be Paul, he does need to fill that void to the best of his ability. He must be able to facilitate the basketball on offense and make sure everyone is getting good quality and high-percentage shoots off of pick-and-rolls and pick and pops. If he can do that than Collison will have done his job.
The next player on the Clipper roster to watch is Blake Griffin. I mentioned earlier, that Paul does a number of things for the Clippers. One of them being a facilitator and creator for his teammates but the more important areas) are his leadership and production roles and that’s where Griffin comes in. Griffin has played exceptionally good basketball so far this season, averaging a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds a game, all while shooting 50 percent from the field. However, with Paul being out, Griffin must first find a way to remain productive. Now some feel that should be easy, but don’t forget the impact of Paul’s ability to create for Griffin which is why I say this won’t be the easiest of tasks. Nonetheless, it’s not an impossible task. Griffin must also step into the role of leader, now similar to what I said about Collison, Griffin doesn’t need to be Paul, mainly because he can’t be him even if he tried. It simply means Griffin needs to be leader for his team when they need him. Meaning he should be able to create for himself and take the last shot in and communicate with his team on the court or in the huddle.
After that, you have to look to the rest of the Clipper squad to step up. When a player like Paul goes down, it’s not up to one or two players to step up, it up to entire roster, that includes the water boy. The Clippers are 9-9 without Paul during his time with the Clippers and if the Clippers want to maintain positive play, everyone must step up. That means hitting open shots, playing unselfish basketball and communicating on defense.
I’m not saying it will be easy without Paul because it won’t be. They have to play San Antonio Spurs on Saturday followed by a home-stand against the Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers and Dallas Mavericks. Remember, the Clippers don’t need to dominate without Paul, they just need to survive.
Written by LBeasley, Sports Contributor for Radio One Detroit
Listen to LBeasley’s Radio Show, “Sports Talk with L-Beasley” every Mon, Wed & Fri from 6-8pm (ET) on LBeasley.com