The Los Angeles Clippers are one of the youngest teams in the NBA with a roster full of players who are all under the age of 30 years old. Mo Williams, who was traded to Los Angeles last season in exchange for Baron Davis, has in a short time made significant inroads fostering close relationships with his teammates, particularly Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. During the off-season Williams was able to keep in touch with Griffin and Jordan in order to start up a ‘mini camp’ for the Clippers during the lockout. Williams is buzzing about the youth of this Clippers team. In a shortened season due to the lockout the Clippers point guard believes the youth movement in L.A. will help this club heal faster and surge forward towards a playoff run. Mo Williams joined ESPN Los Angeles with Mason & Ireland to talk about how he guarantees that the Los Angeles Clippers will make the playoffs this season, why playing 66 games in roughly four months will be advantageous for the young Clippers squad, the Western Conference teams the Clippers are targeting to beat, staying in touch with Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan during the NBA lockout, and working with Griffin in the off-season to help develop his outside jump shot.
On Steve Mason’s prediction that this will finally be the year where the Clippers will be making the playoffs:
“Oh absolutely. I concur with you on this one. We will make the playoffs. That’s a must. You can quote me on that. I am with you. We can go to battle together.”
When you look at the Western Conference you think of the Lakers, Mavericks, and Thunder being there. Do you look at the standings and feel that those are the teams that you have to target? Do you look at it game-by-game?
“I look at the situation like this – being that we got a four month season – being that we got 66-games to play in 120 days – I look at it like that and say you know what the youth will prevail. I say we got a lot of youth and I say with that we got an advantage. It’s my job…so is Blake’s [Griffin]…it’s our job to get guys prepared mentally and physically for the task. I think that for the most part we just got to be mentally prepared. I think our bodies will heal a little bit better than these veterans teams that got these veteran guys that got play on some situations back-to-back-to-back and we can take advantage of those situations, so we gotta take advantage of our youth and that aspect of it. Some people say we are young and inexperienced, but at the same time we young and on those back-to-back-to-back’s when you play – say a Boston comes in – it’s going to be hard for those guys like a KG [Kevin Garnett] or Ray Allen and these guys to be up. We can get up and play.”
Have you been talking to Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan throughout the off-season and the lockout?
“Absolutely. Like I said I got traded towards the end of the year last year and I made an effort…obviously that was one of my main objectives, main goals, was to get my camaraderie, get that family atmosphere so in the off-season when the lockout happened we got together in the off-season as a team. Me and Blake Griffin got the team together and got what we called a ‘mini-camp’ and then outside of that me and Blake got together and worked out down in San Diego – where I live. He came down and spent the week with me. We got some time together just to get our chemistry together, so I did my due diligence to get ready for the season and I’m prepared, physically, mentally, and Blake is. We are looking forward to this season.”
If Blake Griffin develops that outside jump shot like Tim Duncan has he will be unguardable. How close is he to having that part of his game developed?
“That’s all we did. He came down and we worked out together. We didn’t do a lot of post moves. We didn’t do that. What we did was we worked on a lot of jump shots, a lot of moves off the dribble, and that’s one thing he knows that he has to get better in that area because guys are not going to let him get to the rim as much. He’s expanding his game. You gotta understand he missed a year and he was just a rookie last year. You gotta give people time to grow. I’m going into my ninth year and I feel like I had the best summer of my life. I think I jumped leaps and bounds on the player I have become today, so you’ll see a different player in myself this year and I am going into my ninth year. You are talking about a guy going into this third year that missed a year. You gotta understand he is only going to get better because he works hard every single day. Every single day he works hard to try to get better, so the guy that works hard…there’s no way he can’t get better.”