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NBA Team Previews: Los Angeles Clippers

Jackson Sanders

Jackson Sanders

Jackson Sanders writes about fantasy sports for RotoWire.

Los Angeles ClippersSTATE OF THE FRANCHISE
Things have never been better for the Los Angeles Clippers, both from a real-life and fantasy perspective. The Clippers are coming off of a 57-win campaign and kept their team intact aside from their troublesome owner. In the fantasy world, they boast major assets in Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, along with an emerging fantasy commodity in DeAndre Jordan. With the addition of some frontcourt depth in Spencer Hawes, the Clippers look primed for another successful season in their second year under coach Doc Rivers.

PLAYING TIME DISTRIBUTION
Chris Paul is a lock to dominate the minutes at point guard, especially considering the team lost backup Darren Collison to free agency in the offseason. Jordan Farmar was brought in and will back up Paul this season. Expect Paul to see about 35 minutes per game again, with Farmar soaking up the rest. At shooting guard, J.J. Redick will likely start, with Jamal Crawford continuing his role as the Clippers' sixth man. Both players will see enough time to be factors in fantasy and should get around 25-30 minutes each night. Reggie Bullock's should see little to no playing time at all barring an injury to the Clippers' other backcourt players. At small forward, Matt Barnes seems in line to start, with Hedo Turkoglu getting some sporadic playing time backing him up. Barnes should average around 28 minutes to Turkoglu's 20, while rookie C.J. Wilcox will likely warm the bench to open the season. Blake Griffin will play all the minutes he can handle, with Glen Davis filling in for him on occasion. DeAndre Jordan will play significant minutes at center, but Spencer Hawes will play a factor and should eat into Jordan's time on the court. The silver lining is that Jordan and Hawes can play together, so we could see them earning a split to the tune of Jordan playing about 34 minutes a night and Hawes grabbing 24 or so minutes. Davis would be the forgotten piece in the frontcourt if anyone is going lose significant minutes thanks to the addition of Hawes.

PLAYER OUTLOOKS

Centers

DeAndre Jordan: Jordan enjoyed a breakout fantasy season in his first year under coach Doc Rivers. He averaged 10.4 points, 13.6 rebounds, 1.0 steal, and 2.5 blocks in 35 minutes per game through 82 games played. Jordan was a value selection in most formats in 2013-14 drafts, with people generally sleeping on the fact that Rivers was going to give the big man more minutes than what former coach Vinny Del Negro was willing to give out. Jordan is great for defensive stats but doesn't produce much offensively. Like Dwight Howard, Jordan's free-throw percentage (43% career average) makes him a liability in standard rotisserie leagues, but his sky-high shooting percentage (68% last season) and defensive contributions make him an underrated option in head-to-head leagues. The addition of Spencer Hawes could cut Jordan's playing time somewhat, though it's probably more likely that Glen Davis would lose minutes to accommodate Hawes than it would be to see Jordan play less this season.

Spencer Hawes: Hawes was fantastic for fantasy owners last season, spending the first half of the season with the Philadelphia 76ers before being traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. As a free agent this offseason, he signed with the Los Angeles Clippers. Hawes is a 7-footer with three-point range, providing a unique skill set at the center position, which helped him average 13.2 points (46% FG, 42% 3Pt), 8.3 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.6 three-pointers, and 1.2 blocks in 31 minutes per game through 80 games last season. He's projected to be the primary big man off the bench for the Clippers, and he'll likely see time backing up Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Hawes' minutes should remain around his career average of 25 minutes per game, which will be less than minutes then he played last season, decreasing his fantasy value somewhat significantly.

Forwards

Matt Barnes: Barnes should enter the season as the Clippers' starter at small forward, but it's unclear if the team would like to end the season that way after they chased potential replacements this offseason. It's hard to project his value throughout the year knowing that coach Doc Rivers was exploring possibilities to replace Barnes. Initially, Barnes should provide modest scoring, decent rebounds for his position, and three-pointers. If he moves back into a bench role, his value would diminish greatly, and you could probably find a safer, more productive option than Barnes on draft day. In deeper leagues, Barnes could be of use, but in most standard leagues, the question marks surrounding his role make him a risky pick.

Blake Griffin: Griffin, now 25 years old, has taken huge steps in his all-around game on the real-life basketball court but has seen relatively small gains on the fantasy side of things. Last season, he averaged 24.1 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 1.2 steals, and 0.6 blocks in 36 minutes per game through 80 games played. His free-throw percentage climbed to a respectable 72 percent last season (up from 66% in 2012-13), and there's still upside for him to get better across the board as he begins to take on more responsibility initiating the offense from the post. The one foible with Griffin is that he doesn't block many shots (0.6 blocks per game last season), and given his elite athleticism, that's somewhat disappointing. Griffin's growth at the free-throw line last season significantly improves his value in rotisserie leagues, and there's an argument that he's undervalued in head-to-head leagues, where elite counting stats hold a greater weight. He's also one of the top players in most points leagues.

Glen Davis: Davis projects to see some time backing up Blake Griffin in his second year with the Clippers. As a bench player, Davis' fantasy value is hampered, but in deeper leagues, he can provide owners with decent points and rebounds depending on the minutes he gets. Last season, he averaged 9.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.9 steals, and 0.4 blocks in 24 minutes per game through 68 games played. With the addition of Spencer Hawes to the Clippers' frontcourt this offseason, Davis will probably play fewer minutes this season, as the majority of the frontcourt minutes should go to Griffin, DeAndre Jordan, and Hawes.

Guards

J.J. Redick: Redick should slot in as the starting shooting guard in the Clippers' potent offense. He compliments Chris Paul nicely and capitalizes on his three-point opportunities. Redick should continue to be an efficient contributor in free-throw percentage (92%) and three-pointers this season. Last season, he averaged 15.2 points, 2.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 0.8 steals, and 2.1 three-pointers in 28 minutes per game through 35 games played. There's a good chance that Redick's value could take a leap this season with Darren Collison no longer in town and simply because Redick will hopefully be more healthy this season. He only played in 35 games last season due to elbow, wrist, knee, and back injuries, and when he did play, Redick was only given 28 minutes per game. It's possible that his low minutes average was a result of his injuries, and if that's true, we could see Redick average 30-plus minutes this season.

Jamal Crawford: Coming off winning another Sixth Man Award last season, Crawford should stay in his pseudo-bench role while playing starter's minutes. At 34 years old , it's reasonable to expect small declines in his game, but he can still shoot the lights out on any given night to provide owners with points in bunches, as well as a good supply of three-pointers. Crawford should continue to be a solid free-throw shooter (86% career) but a fairly inefficient scorer (41% FG career). While a healthy J.J. Redick may get more minutes at shooting guard, the absence of Darren Collison should keep Crawford playing fantasy-relevant minutes this season.

Reggie Bullock: Entering his second NBA season, Bullock is unlikely to play a significant role in the Clippers' rotation out of the gate. If the opportunity arises, he has value as a potential three-point threat in the Clippers' potent offense. However, some serious breaks would have to go his way, or he would have to show massive improvement to force the coaching staff's hand to receive more than spot minutes. Expect to see him on the floor in garbage time or taking a stint in the D-League to get some run.

C.J. Wilcox: Wilcox was the Clippers' first-round draft pick this season, and he comes into the season buried on a depth chart that is loaded with veteran guards. If given the opportunity, he could contribute as a three-point specialist, but it's unlikely Wilcox will see much playing time in his first season in the NBA.

Chris Paul: What more can be said about Paul as a fantasy asset? He's firmly locked in as the Clippers' starting point guard, and he has the potential to drop double-digit assists on any night. Last season, he averaged 19.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 10.7 assists, 2.5 steals, and 1.3 three-pointers in 35 minutes per game through 62 games played. Paul is a premier double-double threat. The only concern with Paul is injuries, as he missed 20 games last season. At 29 years old, he should have at least one more elite season in his pocket, and despite the fact that he's missed an average of 16 games over the last two seasons, the fact that he only missed eight games total from 2009-11 shows that Paul can remain healthy for a full season. As has become commonplace over the last eight seasons, Paul will be one of the first point guards off the board in most leagues this season. If you know you have to get assists early in your league, Paul is worth consideration any time after Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis are off the board.

Jordan Farmar: After a stint in Turkey, Farmar returned to the NBA last season with the Los Angeles Lakers. He signed with the Clippers this offseason to replace Darren Collison as the team's primary backup point guard. Farmar should see whatever minutes Chris Paul doesn't play at the point, but those minutes could be sporadic, and Farmar's value is tepid at best considering that he has dealt with injuries routinely during his career. If Paul were to go down with an injury, Farmar could become a significant player in fantasy this season. However, in most leagues, he should be seen as a only a handcuff and someone to have on your watchlists.

SLEEPER

J.J. Redick: A lot of the Clippers' offense will come from Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, but Redick should make the most of what's left on the table for the starters. While he doesn't have massive upside, Redick is a player that can be had relatively late in most drafts, and he can produce in points, three-pointers, and the percentages. Later in drafts, you could do worse than Redick, and he'll probably be undervalued due to the injuries that limited his minutes and games played last season.

BUST

Clippers Small Forwards: After showing interest in everyone from Paul Pierce to Shawn Marion this offseason, it's clear that the Clippers are trying to find an upgrade at small forward. Even with starter's minutes, none of the guys currently on the Clippers roster (Barnes, Turkoglu) are consistently productive enough or have enough upside to justify taking in standard leagues.

The Monday following Week 23 is the NCAA Championship game. The NBA will not play any games on that night.