Best In The West: The Los Angeles Clippers?

Los Angeles Clippers
Los Angeles Clippers Home Game At Staples Center. Photo Credit - Wikimedia Commons

Best In The West

When the 2018-19 NBA season started, almost no one had their focus on the LA Clippers, but that’s all changed over just 22 games.

The LA Clippers are currently tied for the number one seed in the Western Conference, currently one spot above the Warriors and a game and a half above the LeBron James-led Lakers.

With no certain superstar player and a roster full of various “jumped-many-teams” players, the Clippers have self-willed themselves into the spotlight.

Although the team does not have a Steph Curry or LeBron James, Doc Rivers has turned players with potential into leaders with superstar potential.

Harris Continues To Lead Team

The 26-year-old Tobias Harris recently earned Western Conference Player of the Week. Out of 31 players in the NBA who have attempted 300 shots, Harris leads the field, and that is above names like Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and James.

Harris is shooting 42.9 percent from 3-point range, 51.6 percent from just within the arc and 63 percent nearest the basket. His accuracy on the court is almost never-ending.

He’s also clutch. When the team was losing by double-digits to the Trailblazers, Harris stepped up and scored a career-high 34 points for a comeback win.

Rivers’ pick-n-roll offense also fits perfectly to Harris’s shooting ability. Before Sunday’s loss to the Mavericks, Harris was averaging 1.15 points per play.

And what’s a good pick-n-roll without a good screen? Montrezl Harrell and Marcin Gortat have built a fluid relationship on the court with Harris, plus they can score.

Harrell came off the bench against the Kings with 24 points and was 8-of-10 from field goal range. Only playing 18 minutes, Gortat scored 9 points and shot 4-of-5. Gortat is also shooting 57.5 percent from the field this season.

Team Functions As A Whole

As a whole, the Clippers have managed to build a strong defense to match their energetic offense. The team is holding opponents to the lowest field-goal percentage in the league.

They also hold several top rankings in the NBA, fourth in shooting, fourth in points per game, twelfth in defensive rating. The team also managed to break their own franchise record with having nine players score 10 or more points over the Wizards.

If that’s not enough, their top players are backed by equally great players. Rivers has a constant rotation, allowing players to rest and other players to mature and vice versa.

Last year’s 6th man, Lou Williams, became the third player to score 10,000 points off the bench. Rookie, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, recently earned a starting spot.

In 32 minutes against the Kings, Gilgeous-Alexander scored 17 points, was 67 percent shooting from the field and added five boards, four assists, two steals, and two blocks.

Against the Suns, he filled the box score again with 13 points, seven rebounds, six assists, one steal, and one block in 29 minutes in the 115-99 win.

The Western Conference is separated by only a few games, so the Clippers number one spot may not last long but it has definitely given them an edge up and a tunnel-like vision towards playoffs this early in the season.