The Clippers are off to a 21-11 start to the season, but have been inconsistent throughout and have underachieved in most observers’ eyes.
That record is good enough for just sixth in the ultra-competitive West at the moment, and L.A. is in the midst of a current run where the team has dropped six of its last 11 games.
As those around the league search for reasons why, one report suggested that the players on the team simply don’t like each other. But Spencer Hawes, newly added to the team this season, refuted the report somewhat emphatically.
“Any team over the course of any season, there’s going to be stuff like that,” Hawes said. “But as far as I’m concerned, this team, off the court, on the court, gets along with each other as well as any that I’ve been a part of. I think there’s a lot of competitive guys, a lot of guys that just want to win. Sometimes you see that side of it, but you don’t see the everyday of how we get along with one another.”
When asked if teammates need to get along to win, Hawes said it all depends on the situation.
“Winning obviously helps all that other stuff, but in our situation, guys on our team do get along,” Hawes said. “I think that’s part of what helps us continue to be successful.”
Part of this can be filed under the heading of “well, what’s he going to say?” No player (especially just 32 games into a season) is going to go on the record and say that chemistry problems exist in the locker room, behind the scenes.
Whether it’s actually true or not matters little in terms of L.A.’s chances this season. While the best teams usually “play for each other” — a mantra regularly repeated by basketball coaches at all levels — it isn’t always necessary.
What’s more interesting to me is to see what happens in Los Angeles if the Clippers underachieve with essentially the same roster as last season (or arguably, one that’s been slightly improved). There should be growth this year, but if the club takes a step backward, some of the blame has to fall on Doc Rivers — yet it would be almost impossible to see the team parting ways with its president of basketball operations and well-respected head coach after only one sub-par season that failed to meet expectations.