Throughout the NBA offseason, Todd will be keeping you in basketball mode as he plays GM according to NBA 2K logic, trying to rebuild the teams that don't end up as one of the last 4 teams standing in the playoffs. After the Clippers' season was put to bed yesterday, it was only fitting to begin with them.
To start, no trades were allowed in the first season, in an attempt to make things as real as possible. Here are the results:
Season 1: 46-36, lost 2nd round of playoffs
The Clippers season in 2K world pretty much went to script. They were good, not great. Some ridiculous trades were proposed, but according to our set rules, we couldn't accept them. That made turning down a first round pick from the Knicks for Jamal Crawford and his expiring contract incredibly difficult. DeAndre Jordan won defensive player of the year, but his statistics could have been better. People have consistently talked about trading Blake Griffin, and that was the goal going into next season to improve the team's overall balance. Going into season two, it was clear that the Clippers could be easily modified based on 2K standards to win a championship.
Here's how I did it in one season:
Season 2: 50-32, 2017 NBA Champions
Do not be deceived by the team's overall record. While 50-32 is a good season, a champion usually has a slightly better record. Chemistry issues early on had a lot to do with this, but once this team got rolling they were quite unstoppable. The key to changing the Clippers was all about balance and letting players flourish in their roles. Trading Blake Griffin cleared up a lot of offensive space. Here are the steps to success:
Accepted Trade: Blake Griffin to BOS for Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder
Surprisingly, this trade made sense for both teams. The Celtics were building a super team. With off-season additions of Lebron James, Ben Simmons, and now Blake Griffin, the Celtics were now lethal. For the Clippers, this trade represented getting rid of an expired contract. In exchange, the Clippers got two young players with multiple years left on their contract. They would be instantly inserted in the Clippers lineup, and could carry some of the scoring load, as well as free up space for reigning DPOY DeAndre Jordan to operate.
Accepted Trade: Wes Johnson and 2016 2nd Round Draft Pick to POR for Allen Crabbe
This was basically a one-for-one trade. Wes is a guy who never developed to his potential, and Allen Crabbe could develop well past that. Crabbe is a guy who would provide this team depth.
Accepted Trade: Mo Williams and Branden Dawson to GS for Seth Curry and Tyler Zeller
As players moved via free agency in the offseason, this deal became possible. The Clippers let a lot of guys go in order to retool their rotation, and this trade provides depth at the Point Guard and Center positions.
The Starters: PG-Chris Paul, SG-Avery Bradley, SF-Jae Crowder, PF Meyers Leonard, C DeAndre Jordan
Key Bench Players: J.J. Redick, Allen Crabbe, Seth Curry, Tyler Zeller
Chris Paul (20.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 11.1 APG, 2.2 SPG)
DeAndre Jordan (12.9 PPG, 15.6 RPG, 3.3 BPG, 2017 DPOY)
J.J. Redick (16.0 PPG)
Avery Bradley (14.7 PPG)
Jae Crowder (12.7 PPG, 6.6 RPG)
Meyers Leonard (11.7 PPG, 7.6 RPG)
Allen Crabbe (8.9 PPG, 2.3 RPG)
Seth Curry (7.7 PPG, 2.6 APG)
Talk about a team with balance! This team had SIX players who averaged scoring in double figures. That's efficiency on the offensive side of the ball. J.J. Redick took the role of Jamal Crawford in year 2, and having a low-risk, high-reward player like Meyers Leonard playing serious minutes was good for the team. Blake Griffin was easily replaced from a scoring perspective, as it is clear the Clippers took a scoring-by-committee approach to offense. I picture this offense moved fluidly with the length and shooting ability on this roster. On the defensive end, having the DPOY anchoring the paint must have made the job of the perimeter defenders much easier.
In summary, here are the three keys anyone must follow when attempting to make the Clippers a championship team.
1. Trade Blake Griffin
In year 2, you must trade him. You will get solid value, and it will be more valuable to get his contract off the books. Get a few multiple-year contracts at a lower value, and you should be set. The key is clearing up space offensively and letting shooters operate.
2. DeAndre Jordan is more valuable to this team than anyone else.
He won back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year awards in this simulation, and improved his numbers greatly with more room to work in Blake Griffin's absence. Mark Cuban and the Mavs sure could've used him.
3. Accumulate shooters
While J.J. Redick is a great shooter, the burden on Chris Paul as a shooter needed to be alleviated. Blake Griffin did not help with that. Having more guys with the ability to shoot (see Avery Bradley, Seth Curry, Allen Crabbe), helped this team win a championship and allowed Chris Paul to facilitate the offense.
That's it folks. It's not that hard to win a title with the Clippers actually. In the playoffs, this team took down an intact Warriors team in the Conference Semis after winning game 7 at Oracle. Talk about guts. The balance of this team gave them the mental fortitude to succeed, as they trusted one another. Next, we'll show you how impossible this is to do with the dumpster fire that is currently the Houston Rockets.