Clippers' rookies still adjusting to life after college

Eric Bledsoe played on a team that lost three games last season.

Blake Griffin? All of six losses during his final collegiate season.

Well, kids, we aren't in Kentucky or Oklahoma anymore.

The NBA season is in its infancy, not even four weeks old, and the Clippers have lost nine games, two shy of the 11 losses suffered by rookie Al-Farouq Aminu last season at Wake Forest.

(It should be noted the Clippers have played 10 games.)

"It's totally different than college, a lot more games and lot less practice time," Clippers Coach Vinny Del Negro said. "You have to be very efficient with your organization with practice and what we're working on."

Preparation time is greatly curtailed with scouting of an opponent on a very fast track, hours instead of days, at times.

"You definitely have to lock in, knowing different players, things like that," Aminu said. "It's real mental instead of always physical. You can't rely on the coaches to give you all the information. You have to get it yourself sometimes as well."

With some help from a few friends, of course, meaning his teammates.

"They're like my second coach, almost," Aminu said.

Third-year guard Eric Gordon wasn't thrown into the fray as quickly his rookie season. But he is not so removed to have forgotten the transition difficulties from college to the pros.

"It's definitely an adjustment for them," he said. "You're playing 20-some college games where college coaches are working you hard and you've got to adapt to an 82-game season where you've got many things going on. Business, trades. Life."

The veterans pass along that message to the four rookies — Bledsoe, Aminu, Willie Warren and Griffin. Griffin technically is a rookie, even though he was around all last season, rehabbing his knee.

"Oh yeah, we tell them that every day," Gordon said. "I know the coaches are on them just enough. We're on them. Players, we kind of expect them by game time, we expect them to do their job and be ready and be out there and not make too many mistakes."

Bledsoe, Griffin and Aminu combined for nine turnovers against the Pistons.

"Most of those young guys tend to throw too many lobs when they don't have to," Del Negro said. "They're used to college, trying to make passes in tight spaces, trying to take an extra dribble instead of hitting the open guy quickly and making the easy play.

"They could get away with that in college and things, but now guys are a step quicker and it's a little more physical, the game is a little faster. And those plays close up pretty quick. That's a process they'll go through and they'll improve in those areas."


There are new injuries, old injuries … and, in the case of Gordon, no reinjuring.

That qualified as the good news for the Clippers when Del Negro was passing along the injury report. Gordon, who missed two games because of a bone bruise in his left shoulder, played almost 42 minutes and scored 28 points in the overtime loss to Detroit on Friday.

"It felt fine, it actually feels better," said Gordon, who is averaging 22 points and nearly five assists per game. "When I started playing more, the more strength it gets …it's still pretty weak, but it was even weaker then before I played."

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