PROJECTEDSTARTING FIVE with 2006-07 statistics
This is an article from the Oct. 29, 2007 issue
KEY BENCH PLAYERS: F Tim Thomas, G Quinton Ross, G Brevin Knight*, F-G RubenPatterson*, F Josh Powell* *New acquisition (R) Rookie (college statistics)
Record: 40-42(9th in West) Points scored: 95.6 (23rd in NBA) Points allowed: 96.1 (9th)Coach: Mike Dunleavy (fifth season with Clippers)
Up, down, let's-keep-him, nah-let's-sell-him--Corey Maggette over the last fewseasons has fluctuated like most stocks. For now the 6' 6" swingman's valueis up again. With franchise player Elton Brand on the shelf until at leastmidseason after Achilles surgery, 37-year-old Sam Cassell an up-and-down riskhimself, and point-guard-of-the-future Shaun Livingston still trying to comeback from a serious knee injury, the Clippers will need a mega-Maggette if theyare to get back to the playoffs, which they missed last year. "It's amind-set to just dominate whenever I can," Maggette says. "We needthat."
A scoringmind-set was never the problem for Maggette. He had it in the 2003-04 and'04-05 seasons, when he averaged 20.7 and 22.2 points per game, respectively.And though his scoring receded last season (16.9 average), his eye for thebasket never wavered. Whenever coach Mike Dunleavy was upset at the offenseover the last two years, the finger was usually pointed at Maggette for takingbad shots and not moving the ball. Consequently, Maggette has been dogged bytrade rumors.
Despite thecriticism and rumblings, Maggette has never publicly exploded in response or,as far as anyone on the outside knew, cut back on his effort. "Corey playsas hard as anybody in the league," says Suns assistant Alvin Gentry. Butjust when it seemed the Clippers were ready to commit to Maggette, offering anextension on his deal, which runs out next season, Maggette said he will letthe Oct.¬†31 deadline pass, setting himself up to be an unrestricted freeagent next year.
All in all, thiscould be the year of Maggette. He'll be playing for a new contract and, for atleast the start of the season, playing without another 20-points-per-gamescorer on the floor. "You have to pick up the slack," says Maggette,"and that's what I plan to do."--J.M.
An opposingteam's scout sizes up the Clippers
I don't see a lotof answers on their roster for the losses of Elton Brand (left Achilles) andShaun Livingston (left knee). Corey Maggette couldn't possibly be more selfishthan he was last year; Sam Cassell is nearly 38 and at the end of the trail. .. . Chris Kaman will be a crucial guy for them. If he can get back on trackafter leveling off last season, he can help them as a guy in the half-court whocan make a play inside. Defensively he'll have to be their anchor and reallystep it up if they want to remain competitive. . . . I like the energy they'regetting from rookie Al Thornton, though he's a little wild. He plays at a highspeed, and I don't know if he's always under control, but he gets to where hewants to go. They'll need to rely on him more. . . . Every time I see TimThomas, I'm asking, Why is this guy not better? He's capable of shooting theball and making plays around the basket, and he's more than athletic andskilled enough. But instead he just floats around, not playing hard, not mixingit up.
L.A. tied for theNBA lead with 5.76 blocks per game, the second-lowest leading average since thestat became official in 1973-74. The lowest (5.56) was by the '74-75 BuffaloBraves, who later became the Clippers.