Weâ€™re going to start with a personal favorite, Quentin Richardson, and then move on to the other key Clipper players. At the end Iâ€™ll lump most of the spot players together since I havenâ€™t seen most of them play enough to really get a good feel for their game. On to Q.
Offense is obviously where Richardson is most valuable. The minutes he earns are because of his ability to put the ball in the basket. Q has managed to turn himself into an above average 3-point shooter. This skill was rarely seen in college or his rookie year and he definitely put in a lot of hardwood time over the previous summers to make himself into a threat from the outside. When the 3-pointer is taken away Richardson is excellent at going hard to the basket. Once inside he can finish with either hand. He is adept at using his shoulder and body to go into a potential shot blocker and create a shooting angle. Quentin has excellent back to the basket post-up skills. He can spin either direction and uses his strength well to keep opponents off balance. After Brand, Quentin probably is the best post player on their roster. Other teams respect his post skills and usually play him with a larger player. Eddy Curry of the Bulls listed Quentin as a player whose post moves he was trying to emulate.
He is by no means a finished product however. Richardson suffers horribly from a lack of a midrange game. I am not just talking a lack of a 15-foot pull-up. He doesnâ€™t have a serviceable shot from six to twenty feet out. His game is either catch and shoot three, or barrel hard to the basket. Except for his post up moves, what heâ€™s learned are the easiest things to do on offense. Quentin needs to add at least a pull-up jumper or a runner from about eight feet. If Iâ€™m guarding Richardson right now I trail him right on his hip over every screen. If he catches the ball Iâ€™m right up on him. Once he makes his move to the basket itâ€™s pretty much an all out sprint into the lane. I can beat him to the spot because I know heâ€™s going all the way. I know he canâ€™t create his own jump shot. If I donâ€™t want to bother with beating him to the lane I know that shifting help over wonâ€™t hurt because he is only a mediocre passer.
Quentinâ€™s lack of height hinders his offensive game and he hasnâ€™t quite adjusted yet. The runner would help, as he often gets stuck deep in the trees. Usually a player in the post takes too long to initiate his move. Quentin doesnâ€™t, itâ€™s just that he usually piles on too many moves at once. Heâ€™ll throw in eight different shoulder fakes and pivots before heâ€™s ready to shoot. His strength allows him to muscle away his defender, however being 6â€™3â€? makes it an easy task for a help defender to come over the top and block his shot.
Lord have mercy. Defense is not where Richardson shines. His fundamentals arenâ€™t horrific, but theyâ€™re only compounding his physical shortcomings. Q is shorter than most NBA shooting guards so he has to take another half step closer when heâ€™s guarding someone to prevent an easy jump shot right over the top of him. Since he has to play closer, his lack of lateral quickness is magnified. Itâ€™s not just a physical limitation though. Richardson doesnâ€™t have the defensive instincts necessary to compensate for his size and speed. Watch a great defender and it looks like they know what their man is going to do before they do it. Thatâ€™s because they basically do. Players that have always concentrated on defense start to pick up body language cues or tendencies without even fully realizing it. They can see the hand come forward on the ball when a player is about to spin, or see a furtive glance towards to basket when a player is ready to gather himself to shoot. Richardson doesnâ€™t see that, he is reacting on defense. He allows the offense to pick a move and then sets out to stop it. The better a defender becomes the more he limits the options of the man on offense. Richardson could never be anything but a passable defender. He really needs to commit himself to time in the film room. Dennis Rodman used to watch hours of players missing shots. Q should be no different. Watch opponents and figure out what theyâ€™re trying to accomplish. Take away option 1, only the very good NBA players have an option 2. Iâ€™m not concerned about Richardson trying to stop the McGradyâ€™s or Kobeâ€™s of the world. He canâ€™t do it. What he can do is not get lit up by Michael Redd or Cuttino Mobley.
Because of Qâ€™s defensive deficiencies he should never be a 35 minutes a game guy. However because of the Clippers lack of depth this year heâ€™ll get the chance to prove me wrong. Iâ€™m critical of his game because I care. I love how he doesnâ€™t seem to care that heâ€™s only 6â€™3â€?. He is an excellent rebounder period, not just for his size. I only wish he wouldnâ€™t have fallen so in love with the 3 so early in his career. He took the Dan Majerle route of slasher to spot up shooter in three years instead of ten. Q has holes in his game but there will always be room in the league for someone who can score in bunches.
Former Clipper Watch
Iâ€™ve been forgetting to mention this but Earl Boykins finally got a long term deal. Five years with Denver. For years all he did was produce on the court and at the end of the season teams let him go because of his size. He closed out games while on the Clippers. He closed out games on the Warriors. Now heâ€™ll do it for the Nuggets. Boykins is different from the other little guys that have passed through the NBA. Bogues seemed just kind of happy to be around. Spudd was mostly a dunking sideshow. Earl Boykins is one pissed off little man who feels heâ€™s been slighted because of his height. When he checks in fans laugh and cheer for him like heâ€™s the halftime entertainment. Next thing you know Earlâ€™s got 12 points and 3 assists and his teamâ€™s up by 5 now. Congratulations Earl. Stay small. Stay angry. It did wonders for Napoleon