When the NBA’s power rankings for Week 6 came out, some were shocked to say the least. While flying under the radar, the Los Angeles Clippers have been ranked No. 1.
It’s easy to reminisce about the old Clippers squad that included their (former) face of the franchise Blake Griffin, and the rest of their front runners- Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan. Those three combined with the skills of JJ Redick, Jamal Crawford and a hefty bench, it was long expected that the Clippers would rise to the top. Obviously, that never happened.
Today, Los Angeles is turning into the dark horse of the league. Not many have been paying too much attention to them, that is, until now.
The Clippers roster is young, and eccentric. It’s definitely full of names you wouldn’t likely make a team out of, and I think that’s why it’s working. This young LA team is currently on a five-game winning streak and looking to make it six tonight against the Washington Wizards. Clippers are already favored the win by 54.7%.
Doc Rivers has found a solid rotation and a hard-to-beat starting five including Patrick Beverley, Danilo Gallinari, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Marcin Gortat and Tobias Harris. Their last game against the Atlanta Hawks, Avery Bradley started for Gallinari who’s currently listed day-to-day with an illness.
Rookie Gilgeous-Alexander came into the league playing like he’s been here for a couple years. He was comfortable and aggressive, and he’s continued that trend. In his last 10 games he’s averaged 10.8 points and about three assists per game while shooting 46% from the field. The rookie teamed up alongside a vet like Beverley has been a great dynamic for the team. Also, Gilgeous-Alexander is getting the chance to learn the ways of the game from one of the most aggressive point guards in the league. It’ll be exciting to watch him grow as a player. Especially if he becomes the new face of the franchise, which it seems like he’s already on the road to doing so.
In the month of November, Harris has proved how important he is to this team. He’s averaging 20.9 points and 8.8 boards per game. He also has an active streak of 15+ points in 16 straight games.
However, it’s not just the starters. If you’ve watched even one Clippers game this season, then you saw the strength of their players off the bench. The days of one player being the only solid sixth man are gone. Lou Williams is always dependable, but the Clippers also have the advantage of Mike Scott and the monster himself- Montrezl Harrell. There’s several other power houses coming off the bench for LA as well, like the friendly giant Boban Marjanovic.
Both Harrell and Williams have scored double digits in their last five games. Against Golden State, Harrell dropped 23 while Williams dropped 25.
In just November, Harrell has been averaging 17 points per game while shooting 68% from the field. Some starters in the NBA don’t even make stats like that.
As a team, the Clippers are averaging 117.9 points and 46.8 total rebounds per game, while their opponents are averaging 112.8 points and 45.9 boards per game. The team is also shooting just below 40% from the three-point line and slightly above 50% from the field. They’re also shooting 82% from the free-throw line, while their opponents are shooting 77% from the stripe.
Los Angeles is currently leading the West, tied up with the Portland Trail Blazers and the Memphis Grizzlies who all hold the same record of 11-5. The Golden State Warriors are just under them with a 12-6 record.
As much as we all foresaw the Clippers making a legit title run while they had stars on their roster, it just never really clicked. Only two months into this season and things are already clicking for this squad. It was great to have superstars on the team, but with a roster like this one, full of young and hungry players, success is more likely than ever now.