Are Chris Paul's Clippers the NBA's Most Balanced Team?
With a 103-77 road victory against the Phoenix Suns, the Los Angeles Clippers have extended their franchise-record winning streak to 13 games. The team made 11 three-point field goals, scored 40 points in the paint and picked up 12 steals and seven blocks.
The common theme for every great team is an established equilibrium. That includes a sense of consistency between the production on both ends of the floor, as well as a manageable drop-off from starters to reserves.
L.A.'s victory over Phoenix is the latest episode in which it's proven capable of fitting the bill.
As previously alluded to, the Clippers attacked from all over the floor. They shot 53.5 percent from the floor and 52.4 percent from beyond the arc, moving the ball for a combined 26 assists.
It wasn't just the stars that were shining, however, as the reserves were equally impressive.
The Clippers' second unit collaborated for 47 points, 23 rebounds, nine assists, five blocks and one steal. Three separate reserves had a plus/minus of at least positive-23.
That's where we begin.
Dominant Second Unit
The Los Angeles Clippers are not only constructed with a high-powered starting lineup, but of extraordinary depth.
Thus far in 2012-13, the Clippers' second unit is averaging 41.9 points, 17.9 rebounds, 8.4 assists, 4.8 steals and 3.7 blocks per game. They're also posting a slash line of .463/.326/.805, thus establishing their efficiency.
Are the Los Angeles Clippers the most balanced team in the NBA?
That is the key to their success.
Regardless of how powerful their starting lineup may be, the Clippers win and lose games based on their depth. With Jamal Crawford providing instant offense and Eric Bledsoe fueling an energetic defense, LAC's second unit can compete with any starting lineup.
Lamar Odom's resurrection is yet another reason to believe.
Over the span of their 13-game winning streak, the two-time NBA champion is averaging 5.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in 21.6 minutes. Odom averaged 1.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 0.4 blocks in 12.8 minutes during his first 14 games.
As Odom improves, the second unit grows in power. Most shocking of all is the fact that we've yet to witness the return of Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill.
Trust Amongst Starters
The second unit deserved to receive praise before any other area of the Clippers' makeup. Let's just not sell the starters short.
Not when Chris Paul is running the show.
CP3 is putting on yet another masterful season, averaging 16.1 points, 9.6 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game. He ranks second in the NBA in assists and, once again, leads the league in steals.
Should he maintain that pace, it would be the fifth time Paul emerged as the steals champion.
Alongside Paul are a cast of reliable role players and an All-NBA star in Blake Griffin. Griffin is averaging 18.3 points and 8.9 rebounds.
DeAndre Jordan, meanwhile, is developing a legitimate back-to-the-basket game. Yet another instance of progression.
Although the individuals may not jump off the page outside of Paul and Griffin, the Clippers have the ever-important aspect of trust. Every starter is shooting at least 40.5 percent from the floor, and only one is sitting at less than 43.5.
With two potential starters in Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill remaining injured, the quality of the starting lineup will improve significantly. A scary thought.
Thus far in 2012-13, the Los Angeles Clippers are averaging 101.2 points per game. During their 13-game winning streak, they're grinding out 103.0 points per contest.
And they're doing it with a balanced and explosive attack.
LAC is dishing out 23.3 assists per game. It's also averaging 6.8 three-point field goals made, 47.6 points in the paint and 17.8 fast-break points per game.
In other words, the Clippers are scoring efficiently in every offensive phase.
Most important of all is the fact that no individual is of more importance than another. This is evident in the fact that seven different players are averaging at least 9.0 points per game.
Four are in double figures, including the surprising Matt Barnes at 10.3.
Furthermore, the Clippers are committing just 12.1 turnovers per game over the span of their 13-game win streak. This displays how responsibly they've approached every game, as they're looking for the intelligent finish over the highlight-reel play.
Fortunately for fans, the smart play almost always leads to an awe-inspiring conversion.
For all of the Los Angeles Clippers' offensive power, it is their play on the defensive end that makes them a force to be reckoned with.
As of December 24, the Clippers are allowing 91.6 points per game. During their 13-game winning streak, they're letting in just 87.3 per contest.
In other words, the Clippers are not allowing anyone to score.
Thus far in 2012-13, the Clippers have held 13 of their 27 opponents to less than 90 points and have limited opponents to 95 points or less in 19 of 27 games.
If you want consistency, the Clippers have been just that: consistent in smothering the opposing offense.
They've allowed seven opponents to top 100 points. Two of those games came during the first week of the season, with just one transpiring during their current winning streak.
So how is it all going down?
Entering their game against the Phoenix Suns, LAC had allowed just 36.7 points in the paint and just 11.6 fast-break points per game.
This has enabled L.A. to post an average largest deficit of just 7.0 points per game.
Most important of all, the Clippers are allowing 21.0 fourth-quarter points per game. That ranks at the top of the NBA.
It also enables them to perform in the clutch.
With 101.2 points scored and 91.6 points allowed per game, the Clippers are averaging a 9.6-point differential. It has also led to an average margin of victory of 11.3 points.
Now if that's not balance, what is?
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