ESPNDallas.com will compare the Mavericks and Clippers in five facets — other than money — that could play a role in Chris Paul’s free agency decision in a one-per-day series: owners/front office, coaches, co-stars, supporting casts and franchise tradition. We’ll focus on Dwight Howard next week.
The power forward’s production has dipped significantly after his award-winning 2010-11 season.
2010-11 – 23.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg
2011-12 – 21.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg
2012-13 – 17.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg
2010-11 – 22.5 ppg, 12.1 rpg
2011-12 – 20.7 ppg, 10.9 rpg
2012-13 – 18.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg
Dirk’s declining numbers are easily explained. He’s about to turn 35, dealt with knee issues the last two seasons and had serious point guard problems this year. With good health and a great point guard, Nowitzki returning to All-Star form certainly doesn’t seem to be a stretch.
What’s up with the 24-year-old Griffin’s regression since his Rookie of the Year campaign? You’d think such an elite athlete would be better after being paired with a premier point guard, but the evidence so far doesn’t support that theory.
“Lob City” has produced a lot of highlights, but the Chris Paul/Griffin pick-and-roll hasn’t been quite as lethal as anticipated. There have also been L.A. media rumblings about friction forming between the two Clippers cornerstones, with Paul supposedly growing weary of Griffin’s immaturity.
The CP3/Dirk pick-and-pop wouldn’t be nearly as flashy, but it’d be an efficient piece of art. Paul loved playing with a midrange-shooting machine of a power forward in New Orleans, dubbing David West as “The 18-foot Assassin.” There has never been a sweeter-shooting power forward than Nowitzki, whose calm competitiveness would also complement Paul’s fiery personality. (And there’d be no clash of egos with Dirk, who wants nothing more than to suddenly become the Mavs’ second best player.)
Nowitzki has established himself as an elite closer and has consistently stepped up his game in the postseason. Griffin can make neither of those claims.
For all of Griffin’s athleticism, if Paul had to pick one of the power forwards for a playoff run, there’s little doubt it’d be Dirk at this point.
But CP3 has to be thinking about the long term this summer, and when comparing co-stars, that almost certainly tips the scales to the dude that’s more than a decade younger than his fellow power forward.
The finances could be a factor here, too. Dirk has declared that he’ll take a massive pay cut when he re-signs with Dallas next summer, meaning the Mavs are guaranteed to have the cap space to pursue another star, while Griffin’s max contract extension is about to kick in. But we’ll wait until Thursday’s installment to weigh the impact of the dollars difference.