Los Angeles Clippers star Point Guard Chris Paul is officially out for 6 weeks with a separated right shoulder. While no surgery is required for the injury, Paul will still miss approximately 20 games and the Clippers are going to need to figure out how to manage life without Paul as soon as possible. How can the 23-13 Clips play a successful brand of basketball without Paul?
1. Trust in Darren Collison
Chris Paul’s old backup is now a starter for the hot Phoenix Suns so the heaviest weight of this injury is going to fall on the slender shoulders of Darren Collison. The fifth year guard from UCLA is not unfamiliar in a starters role. He started 47 games for the Dallas Mavericks last year and has 221 games in his 5 seasons. Though Collison is only averaging 8.6 points per game, 2.2 assists and 2.1 rebounds, he is a productive player and should have the full confidence of his teammates and coaches.
While it’s never good to see your star player go down with a significant injury, the bright side is that if Collison plays at a high level it would be a huge boost to the rotation going into the playoffs and he may bring back more assets in a future trade down the line. If you’re going to get the best from Collision; however, you can’t baby him along in this role. You need to toss him squarely into the action and ask him to be everything that Chris Paul is. While he will never be close to the player that Paul is, Collison can do some interesting things on the court and I feel like the Clippers and their fans may be pleasantly surprised with the results.
2. Believe in Doc Rivers
This one kind of goes without saying. When the Clippers have to play sans Chris Paul sometimes the offense looks like a joke. The impetus is going to be on Doc Rivers to figure out the rotations and how to manage the roster without Paul at the helm. This will be no easy feat. The entire Clippers organization is built around CP3. How do you survive without your centerpiece? That is the question Rivers is going to have to answer; however, he is uniquely qualified to deal with the problem. Rivers mastery of rotations in Boston was one of the reasons his teams were so successful. Believe in the Doc, he will get the Clippers to where they need to be until Paul is ready to come back.
3. Feed Blake the ball
This is a fantastic opportunity for Blake Griffin. I know it sucks to say that losing your best player creates exciting opportunities for other players but it’s absolutely true. Blake has the chance to show the NBA that he can lead a team by himself and that he can be the best player on a winning basketball team. If I’m Doc Rivers I’m instructing Collision to run the entire offense through Griffin and try to get him 20-23 shots a game. During CP3’s absence it is going to be important that Griffin is the focal point of the offense in order to establish an inside out dynamic. If Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan for that matter, is going off early in the game it is going to open up more opportunities on the outside for guys like…….
4. Jamal, Jamal and more Jamal
If I was Doc Rivers my first move after naming Darren Collision starter would be to insert Jamal Crawford into the starting lineup and let him roam free. Let Collision deal with getting the ball to the open man and involving Griffin early and often. Don’t put any restraints of Crawford and get him 35 plus minutes a night. We all know that when Crawford is going off there are only about 5-6 other guys in the NBA that can light it up like him. Without Chris Paul you’re going to need to see a lot of those nights to compete night in and night out. Don’t fight the feeling! Get the ball to Jamal!