January 18, 2011
If you haven't noticed, then you need to stop reading right now. Because if you haven't been paying attention to the fabulous Los Angeles Clippers of late, then you have no business wasting your time on an NBA blog, reading paeans to Baron Davis. So, as you've no doubt noticed, Baron Davis has been beasting of late. Beasting relative to his terrible play to start the season, but beasting never the less.
Since Christmas, Baron is averaging 14.6 points per game spread out over 10 contests. He's only playing around 30 minutes a night, and shooting 46.5 percent from the floor, which is a killer mark for someone who has slogged his way to a 40.9 career percentage from the floor.
Baron is still shooting too many threes (3.7, in just 30 minutes) for someone making just a quarter of his shots from long range, but he's also averaging 8.4 assists a game (again, in just 30 minutes) to 2.4 turnovers. The guy is playing terrific basketball.
And if he breaks our hearts again, and lazes his way back into poor play, I don't know what I'm going to do.
Because the Clippers started the year 5-21, in no small part thanks to Davis' terrible start to the season. After showing up to camp completely out of shape, Davis made less than a third of his shots from the field in cameo appearances in October and November, forcing a former college shooting guard, rookie Eric Bledsoe(notes), into running an NBA team for long stretches. He was awful upon returning in December, shooting 37 percent from the floor before Christmas, launching way too many 3-pointers while barely making more than half his free throws, and coming through with terrible defense as his step-slow body caught up to NBA-styled play.
Even after he took most of the month of November off to do what he should have done in August.
And as a result, a Clippers team that probably should be fighting for a playoff spot this year, will likely fall short once the 82-game season wraps up. As a result, seven nationally televised games of Blake Griffin(notes) going up against Tim Duncan(notes) in the playoffs probably won't happen, unless the Clippers really, really tear it up from here on out.
The team has played great ball of late, winning 10 of 14 and looking like a dangerous out throughout. But it will probably take 43 or 44 wins to grab the last playoff spot in the West, if current trends hold up, and this would force the Clippers into finishing on a 29-13 tear to end the season.
And that's not out of the realm of the possible. Providing Baron Davis doesn't break our hearts.
Because if this Davis continues to play like this, if every game before last was the season's low point as he (still) works his way back into shape, then we could have a postseason participant. If a motivated and in-shape Davis moves the ball, attacks the rim, and cleans the glass to start breaks, these Clippers (even though they still have a staggering 26 road games left to play) could make some noise. But only if Davis continues to improve.
Los Angeles is 3-12 on the road, thanks in no small part to Davis being either injured or ineffective for most of this season's early road jaunts. But while young teams have historically played poorly away from home, Davis could be an influence that holds it all together. Stop laughing.
I know this was the guy who partied the Warriors out of a playoff spot late in 2008. I know this is the man who has been out of shape for, honestly, 90 percent of his NBA career. And I understand that even when motivated and in shape, Davis still tends to act as a mitigating factor as he tosses up 3-pointer after 3-pointer.
But he'll also turn 31, a week before the playoffs start. And if this isn't the final wakeup call, then what is? If you can't get excited by the prospect of introducing the world to Blake Griffin, superstar, then what hope do you have?
This could happen. But it depends on Davis coming through, at the tail end of a career that has seen more letting down than it has lifting up. And if he breaks our hearts one final time, well, he should never be able to eat lunch in that town again.