The Los Angeles Clippers have returned back to Earth after their hot start to the NBA season. With the superstar play of Blake Griffin a constant, the Clippers now depend on Danilo Gallinari to be successful.
The Los Angeles Clippers started the season on a four-game win streak. After seven games, the Clippers were 5-2. Blake Griffin was playing at an MVP level (and still is) and Los Angeles looked primed to prove all of the naysayers wrong. Perhaps the team could exceed expectations without Chris Paul.
The team was deeper, adding some key pieces to the bench. Griffin was unleashed and allowed to finally lead the team. Plus, DeAndre Jordan returned to his role as glass cleaner and shot blocker. While Chris Paul makes them more talented, perhaps a deeper Clippers team could perform better.
After five more games, the same thoughts are long gone. Los Angeles is in the midst of a five-game losing streak. Their latest loss came at the hands of the New Orleans Pelicans despite the Pelicans turning the basketball over 23 times.
It certainly is not time to hit the panic button in LA, but it is time to return back to earth and realize that this Clippers team still needs to battle for a playoff spot. With Blake Griffin leading the way, LA will easily finish in a low playoff seed.
Whether or not the team can succeed past that all rely on one man, Danilo Gallinari. Gallinari easily is the biggest wild card on the Clippers and his play will dictate how successful the team will be.
Gallinari was the biggest addition to the Los Angeles Clippers this last offseason. Los Angeles acquired Gallinari in a three-team trade that sent Jamal Crawford to the Atlanta Hawks and sent the Nuggets a future second-round pick.
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This filled a massive hole at the small forward position with a relatively talented player. The sixth overall pick in the 2008 draft averaged 18.2 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game the season prior. Gallinari is a lifetime 41.9% shooter while shooting 36.7% from beyond the arc.
However, Clipper fans are not getting the same Gallinari. Gallinari is averaging just 12.8 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. His shooting is down to 35.5%, his three-point shooting down to 26.0%.
Gallinari is shooting at the worst three-point rate of his career while taking the most shot attempts. The forward’s 5.6 three-pointers per game are the most since his sophomore year in which he shot six a game. Gallinari shot 38.1% from beyond the arc that season.
While Gallinari’s slow start is not the sole reason of blame for the slow start, the Clippers are going to need the old Danil Gallinari to return to succeed. Los Angeles is all-in on depth this season, Gallinari not playing to his potential completely ruins the depth philosophy. The next best option is Sam Dekker, who averages 1.9 points per game.
Overall, we all know that the play of Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Patrick Beverley will remain constant. Each man has their own role and succeeds in filling that role every night. However, whether the Clippers can make it far in the playoffs or not all depends on Danilo Gallinari’s play.