Around the Dorm: Blake Griffin, Alex Smith and Shaun White

In this week’s edition of Around the Dorm, “Ref” Alexander Reich asked our panel of three experts — Michael Battista, Sean Reis and Malcolm Luck — three questions: 1. Will the Los Angeles Clippers continue to be relevant in the NBA without Blake Griffin? 2. Is Alex Smith a good fit for the Washington Redskins? 3. Will snowboarder Shaun White medal in the halfpipe at the Winter Olympics?

1. Will the Los Angeles Clippers continue to be relevant in the NBA without Blake Griffin?

Michael: Not really, since they weren’t really relevant in the first place. The Clippers play in the western conference and unless your team is the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers or (sometimes) the San Antonio Spurs, it doesn’t matter what they do for the foreseeable future. Griffin helped the Clippers stay relevant to the public. However, their presence on the court won’t really change because of his trade to the Detroit Pistons since the team hasn’t been producing consistently as of late. They sit around ninth place in the western conference standings and only one player, Lou Williams, is averaging above 20 points per game. The team lost a superstar, and now need to find a new one as a centerpiece for a mediocre organization.

Sean: The Los Angeles Clippers were already struggling to stay relevant, so no. Chris Paul’s departure was the beginning of the end for the Clippers. Although Austin Rivers has been a strong leader at point guard, the team was not the same after Paul left. With the surprising Griffin trade, this is just the organization accepting that fate. DeAndre Jordan’s trade rumors are now afloat, and it is only a matter of time before the Clippers fall back down to the bottom of the totem pole, far from relevancy.

(AP Photo)

Malcolm: This question is tough to answer because there is no definitive timetable. The team still plays in one of the biggest markets in the realm of sports and although they share Los Angeles with the Lakers, they won’t have trouble filling seats. Griffin is undoubtedly one of the best athletes the Clippers have seen in its franchise history, but that’s not really saying much. Coming out of the University of Oklahoma, a lot of his hype came from a slightly above average postgame and a jaw-dropping ability to dunk the ball. While dunking is cool and all, he did not do nearly enough to make his absence endanger the franchise’s relevancy. He really hasn’t achieved that much in general. Being a five time All-Star might seem impressive, but the NBA All-Star voting is nothing more than a popularity contest. He has never made an All-NBA first team and has never done enough to put the Clippers in the Western Conference Finals, even with DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul playing with him. Blake Griffin is by no means an irreplaceable player and the Clippers will continue to be relevant without him.

Malcolm gets 3 points for writing about the Clippers’ future. Michael gets 2 points for supporting Lou Williams’ big impact. Sean gets 1 point for talking about other players.

2. Is Alex Smith a good fit for the Washington Redskins?

Michael: Does anyone know what a “good fit” is for the Redskins? What plan or trade has really worked for them the past few seasons? This trade seems like a typical move by Redskins owner Dan Snyder to me, and I can prove it fits his pattern. This trade shows that the Redskins are the champions of the off-season. This team spends tons of money on players that are past their prime, or are toxic and overrated. From Deion Sanders and Andre Reed to Josh Gordon and Albert Haynesworth, Snyder never makes the right call. Looking solely at Smith, maybe he can jump them a few spots in the total offense category, but that’s if he plays. I guarantee Kirk Cousins gets franchised tagged and he will battle it out with Smith for the starter spot. I’m not sure if fans will like that.

(AP Photo)

Sean: Yes and no. I think Alex Smith can be a good fit in most organizations. He’s a smart quarterback who knows how to read the defense and lead his team downfield as long as you don’t tell him to play too conservatively, like the Kansas City Chiefs did time after time. Smith has the potential to be a top quarterback in the league, especially in Washington. With that said, he also needs help from his backfield. Smith had a 50-26 regular season record during his five years with the Chiefs and a large part of those wins came from Jamaal Charles and Kareem Hunt. Smith will be a good fit in Washington, but he needs that backfield behind him.

Malcolm: I think Alex Smith is a good fit for the Redskins, but not the quarterback they need if they plan on getting any further than the divisional round of the playoffs. Prior to this season, Alex Smith earned his living in the NFL as a “game manager,” earning his paycheck every year by using his ability to limit turnovers. His career 1.91 touchdown/interception ratio places him at No. 16 all-time and in front of Hall of Fame talent like Big Ben, Brett Favre and Dan Marino. While that number is impressive, Smith is notorious for relying on a top-tiered run game and a West Coast offensive approach that emphasizes short routes and screen passes. The Redskins haven’t had a significant run game since the RGIII and Alfred Morris rookie era. With that said, Smith is going to have to step a little out of his comfort zone and trust his instincts. If the Redskins can improve their previously awful offensive line and inevitably improve the run game, Smith would be an excellent starting quarterback and would be part of a team that parallels the San Francisco and Kansas City teams he had success on.

Malcolm gets 3 points for talking about Smith’s skills. Michael gets 2 points for discussing fan reactions. Sean gets 1 point because he didn’t go into detail.

3. Will snowboarder Shaun White medal in the half-pipe at the Winter Olympics?

Michael: I’m not really sure. In 2014, White didn’t even medal and that speaks to both the volume of the competition and, possibly, his age catching up with him. But coming into this year, the San Diego native scored a perfect 100 at the U.S. Grand Prix to qualify for the Winter Olympics. Not only that, but his routine includes the Double McTwist 1260, which he patented, and the frontside double cork 1440. Both are incredibly difficult maneuvers. I think that regardless of what happens, he’s really going to shred the gnar. He’ll just need to be careful while he’s tearing it up, in case the Korean half-pipe gives him chatter.

Sean: It pains me to say this, but sadly, White will not medal in the half-pipe at the Winter Olympics. At 31 years old, White has passed his prime as a snowboarder. He inspired most of the young talent that he will face in the coming weeks, and sadly, they will beat him. His age may not be “old” per se, but he’s seen better days in a young man’s game. As much as I would love to see him bring home the gold, or even medal, I honestly do not think it is going to happen for White in his most likely last Olympic performance.

(AP Photo)

Malcolm: I don’t think White will medal in the half-pipe this year. In 2014, White was four years younger and still failed to medal against his foreign competitors. Now, at age 31, White is past his prime. In certain sports, athletes like David Ortiz, Vince Carter and Tom Brady continue to age and still maintain at least an average level of success. This same phenomenon can’t apply to a sport as strenuous as snowboarding. In order to wow the crowd and judges, snowboarders have to do combinations of twists and turns that are almost impossible to pull off past a certain age. In the 2014 Olympics, men’s half-pipe gold, silver and bronze medalists were ages 25, 15 and 18, respectively. Athletes are getting younger and more innovative — I don’t think White has what it takes to perform at a level worthy enough to beat competitors half his age.

Malcolm gets 3 points for comparing White to other athletes. Michael gets 2 points for mentioning White’s tricks. Sean gets 1 point for his pessimism about White’s age.

Malcolm wins ATD 9-6-3

“Count…cadence…count cadence delay, cadence delay, cadence count…”

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