Monday, February 22, 2010

After Monday's game against the Bobcats, Steve Blake still runs a better offense than Davis


(Photo from Yahoo)
First off, I'm not going to write about Steve Blake and Baron Davis after every single Clipper game. This is just a follow up to yesterday's post where I argued that Steve Blake runs a better offense than Baron Davis (note: running a better offense DOES NOT EQUAL better player).

I just came back from the Clipper game where they beat the Charlotte Bobcats for their 2nd win in a row. And to my surprise, Baron Davis suited up! Equipped with my little notebook and a pen, I took notes throughout the game on pretty much every possession where Baron Davis and/or Steve Blake touched the ball. My conclusion after the game stands firm: Steve Blake runs a better offense than Baron Davis.

Baron Davis started the game. He ended with 10 points, 10 assists, shot 3-8 from the field in 36 minutes. Per quarter:

First quarter: 5 assists, 2 points, 10 minutes
Second quarter: 0 assists, 2 points, 6 minutes
Third quarter: 3 assists, 2 points, 12 minutes
Fourth quarter: 2 assists, 4 points, 8 and a half minutes

Steve Blake subbed for him. He ended with 3 points, 7 assists, shot 1-2 from the field in 16 minutes. Per quarter:

First quarter: 1 assist, 0 points, 2 minutes
Second quarter: 3 assists, 0 points, 6 minutes
Third quarter: 0 minutes
Fourth quarter: 3 assists, 3 points, 7 and a half minutes

That's for the stat heads. 10 assists in 36 minutes and 7 assists in 16 minutes. But of course that doesn't tell the whole story. Let me bring you into my world of notes.

Steve Blake is a pure PG: Last post, I claimed that Steve Blake never tried to go one on five and take a bad shot and implied that Baron did. I have examples. At the 3:23 mark in the first quarter, Baron goes one on one with Stephen Jackson and gets a bucket about a step in from the free throw line. Hey, if you can take your man and get a shot that close, I say go for it. I'm not faulting Baron here. But at the 2:32 mark, he tried it again, only this time Stephen Jackson blocked him and the Bobcats get the ball.

At the 3:50 mark in the 2nd quarter, he got an open layup, good possession. But at the 2:26 mark, on a fast break, Davis pulls up from a step inside the free throw line extended- right side (I hope I'm describing this well enough) with no other Clipper under the basket for a rebound and being defended with 3 other Bobcats under the basket in case he drove- Bad possession.

At the 11:42 mark of the third, Baron goes on one one with Stephen Jackson and takes a fadeaway jumper from the right baseline. It goes in, it's an OK possession. Again, if you can take your man, go for it. But a fadeaway from the baseline? Eh...

At the 7:14 mark in the third, Baron steals the ball and takes a wide open 3 pointer that misses. I don't mind this possession. Free look at a 3 pointer, sometimes if you're feeling it, you gotta take it.

BUT HEY. Let's look at the shots he didn't take - Baron drives and kicks, he passed up shots to find Rasual and Eric Gordon for threes. He lobbed to DeAndre. He found Gooden on cuts. Hey, this guy IS a good basketball player!

But I still stand by my points from last post:

Steve Blake is a good teammate: Baron sulks. He sulks when he's losing and is cheerful when he's winning. Again, I have specific examples. Clippers are up 24-17 in the first and Craig Smith gets an offensive rebound, gets it to Davis who passes to Gordon who airballs a 3 pointer. It goes out of bounds and Charlotte calls a time out. Davis laughs it off and teases EG about it and high fives him.

Fast Forward to 5:45 mark in the 4th: Clippers are down 83-79 in the midst of a collapse. Tyrus Thomas blocks Craig Smith's layup and Travis Outlaw commits a foul. LAC calls a time out and Baron does that eye roll with a whole head roll like he's saying "ugghh!!!" I've seen this before and I'll see it again and I have yet to see Blake do it.

Steve Blake doesn't take plays off: 8:59 mark in first quarter, Kaman and Rasual Butler are fumbling the ball out of their hands and almost out of bounds while Baron is on the opposite wing, standing. 9:43 mark in the fourth, Craig Smith is chasing down an offensive rebound going out of bounds, Blake is right there behind him, giving Smith a target to save the ball to. Steve Blake is always... just, ON. He always seems to know what to do.

The Bobcats must've done their scouting report because when Steve Blake was in, they full court pressed him to stop his fast pace push the ball up the court style. DJ Augustin tried to prevent the ball from being inbounded to him and stayed with him tight to slow him down so that when Blake finally crossed the half court line, the shot clock was at 19ish rather than 22ish like the Kings let him do. Last play of the first quarter, Augustin is playing tight D on Blake and but when the ball is finally inbounded, Blake finds an opening and turns the inbounds play into a fast break where he finds Outlaw for an open 3 but he's right next to Clipper coach Kim Hughes who tells him to get the last shot, so he pulls it back out. Steve Blake, always working hard. I love this guy.

He moves without the ball. I counted three times when Baron Davis made the first pass in the half court set, and then drift along the 3 point line. When Blake makes that first pass, he sets a down screen, which on one possession, (first play of the 2nd quarter, 11:43 mark), he set the screen for Travis Outlaw who popped up to the freethrow line for a WIDE OPEN jumper which he swished. When he moves without the basketball, OTHER players move without the basketball and it sets up open lanes to drive and cut. It's simple basketball and Steve Blake gets it.

What it all comes down to: Blake and Davis are two different players. Neither is better or worse. You need a player who can drive to the basket, draw fouls, or kick the ball out to open shooters or cutters. That's Baron Davis. But when that happens, there is no movement. Four Clippers stand and watch Baron go one on one and wait for their man to help on defense and then they get the pass from Baron.

Steve Blake gets involved with the offense. He can't break his defender down but he can use screens well and if the screener rolls, he'll get the ball right in his hands for an easy layup. Blake makes crisp passes that comes with a two handed pass while Baron's passes (sometimes no looks, sometimes catches the fellow Clipper off guard) aren't quite where the player wants it but they're open enough to recover and set up their shot.

I like the screen aways for open shots and pushing the ball on offense. I stand by by conclusion that Steve Blake runs a better offense, but a team needs a player like Baron who can break a defender down one on one. I just wish he wouldn't take some of his shots trying to do too much.

Again, this blog isn't going to turn into a Steve Blake love fest, but I had to explain my thoughts after another game and lucky for me, I got to compare Davis and Blake in the same game.

(Official time marks from nba.com)

2 comments:

KneeJerkNBA said...

Baron Davis is all about Baron Davis. If you look at this career, he's burned bridges at every stop. Teams always want Steve Blake back. It's about character. Yes, Baron is an infinitely more talented player. He's also a major douchebag. Ask any of his former coaches.

ReadBetweenTheBaselines said...

Haha, I like how people think Byron Scott would be a good replacement coach for the Clippers. "Who's your starting PG? Yeah, no thanks, I'll try the Nets again..."