Last night, the Los Angeles Clippers put a beat-down on the Brooklyn Nets. To be quite honest, that’s been the story of the Clippers’ season so far. Sitting at 10-1, their best start in franchise history, this year’s Clippers team has a much different feel to it. They’ve had good starts to the past few seasons, but not in the fashion of this season.
Take the Clippers Hot Start Seriously
Lately, the Clippers have been blowing out every opponent. Since their nail-biting loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on November 2nd, they have been on an absolute tear. On their current seven-game winning streak, the Clippers have beaten their opponents by an average of 20.8 points. Five of the seven wins have come against teams that made the playoffs last season. That says a lot about this team and its ability to come up big against the best in the league. The best part about these blowouts is that the Clippers have been doing it early in the games. They are putting the games to rest early and giving their star players the rest they need for the long season ahead.
DeAndre Jordan’s Defensive Impact
The Clippers are doing an excellent job on both ends of the floor. They currently rank in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive rating. Center DeAndre Jordan deserves a lot of the credit for the defense. When he is on the court, the Clippers have a stellar defensive rating of 85.0. It goes to 96.5 when he is off the court, which is still a remarkable stat. They’ve done a great job of turning their good defense into successful transition offense, usually ending in an alley-oop to Jordan. One can argue that the Clippers have the best defensive frontcourt in the league with Jordan and Blake Griffin.
The Depth is Finally There
For the past few seasons, the lack of depth had been the Achilles heel for the Clippers. But this season, the Clippers’ bench is arguably the best that it’s been in a while. Many of these players could start for a number of teams in the league. Of course, the bench is led by Jamal Crawford, who can come in and be the leading scorer for the team on any given night. But Crawford is not the only one contributing; off-season acquisitions Raymond Felton, Marreese Speights, and Brandon Bass have all come in and contributed in different ways. Felton gives them a stable backup point guard who can run the offense and give Paul more rest. Speights and Bass are both shooters who can help spread the floor. Bass can also post up and score in the paint. The reserves keeping up their consistent play is key to to the success of the Clippers going forward.
Chris Paul and Blake Griffin Are at Their Best
Without question, the biggest reason for the success of the Clippers has been the duo of Chris Paul and Griffin. Those two are the backbones of the team, and the team will only go as far as those two take them. Every year, people are ready to write off Paul and say that this is the year he finally declines. He is currently averaging 19.0 points, 8.5 assists, and 5.6 rebounds per game. He hasn’t lost a step and is still one of the premier defenders in the league. His leadership has been valuable to the Clippers, and he has seemingly fixed his iffy relationship with Jordan, which is a great sign. Griffin’s development over the years has been remarkable to watch. He has shown the league that there is so much more to his game than dunks. His passing ability really helps take the distributing load off of Paul. Last season, we saw him take a big leap in his perimeter shooting. Griffin has actually expanded his shooting to the three-point line, which is pretty surprising. As long as these two are playing at a high level, the Clippers will always be one of the top teams in the league.
Many people are solely going to judge the Clippers based on their playoff success, which is understandable. They still have yet to reach the Western Conference Finals, which is a feat we would have expected them to do by now. Whether it was blowing a 3-1 series lead over the Houston Rockets in 2015 or Griffin and Paul getting injured in the playoffs last season, the Clippers haven’t had the best luck. But if there is any year to bet on them, it is this season. This is the most complete we have seen them, and they are ready to finally take the next step and reach the Conference Finals. Who’s to say that this team can’t represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals?