The tenants of “Lob City”were not built upon the idea of Chauncey Billups hoisting nineteen shots per game and Chris Paul playing shooting guard. The pieces of this Los Angeles Clippers puzzle were meant to fit in such a way that lob passes floated like clouds, endlessly through the Staples Center sky, resulting in thunderous explosions shaking both the rim and arena on a nightly basis. The engine of this aerodynamic basketball machine was supposed to be driven by Paul, with Billups and fellow All-Star point guard Mo Williams simply happy enough to be along for the flight.
In the Clippers debut on Sunday, as any reasonable person would it expect, it looked like there’s still plenty of role defining work left to do. Chauncey started at shooting guard, but he handled the ball a lot more that you’d expect somebody playing alongside Paul should. He also shot a ton too, hiking up seven more shots than Paul to score one more point. The third point guard the Clippers employ, Williams, came off the bench to score eight points but was visibly upset when he was pulled from the game with six minutes to go.
I kinda think this dynamic might be a harder one for Vinny Del Negro and company to workout than people think it will be, but Chris Paul doesn’t appear to agree with me on that. He says it’s not big deal.
This from Pedro Moura of ESPN.com:
“It doesn’t matter,” Paul said Tuesday, one day before the Clippers’ second game of the season against the San Antonio Spurs. “It doesn’t matter when you have two guys like me and Chauncey because we have the opportunity to attack from different spots on the floor.
Paul scored 20 points on 12 shots in the opener, while Billups shot 19 times to score 21. There were a few possessions where it wasn’t entirely clear who was supposed to be bringing the ball up the court.
Paul has played off the ball on a select few occasions as a pro, including in the 2007-2008 season, when Jannero Pargo played significant minutes for the Hornets. He also played some shooting guard last year, when New Orleans acquired Jarrett Jack a month into the season.
“I actually like it,” Paul said. “I actually enjoy it.
“This way, the defense can’t always look at you and know you’re the guy.”
The only thing is, Paul is the guy. And the only way you can make a team who employs Paul not play to their full potential at point guard is to not play Paul at point guard. Billups having the ball in his hands is a great option for many teams throughout the League at this point in his career, but he’s not a better option than Paul ever. Neither is Williams.
It isn’t good to keep Mo around if he’s not happy about his role either, nor is it ideal to create a role for Billups which includes him shooting twenty times per night. Still real early, but just a dynamic that’s worth paying attention too. These are still the Clippers at the end of the day.