What the L.A. Clippers Should Wish for This Christmas

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What the L.A. Clippers Should Wish for This Christmas
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It's been all good so far in Clipperland.

The Los Angeles Clippers have definitely been nice this year. So nice that they stand atop both Marc Stein's weekly power rankings and John Hollinger's daily power rankings thanks to the franchise record 13-game winning streak they carry into Christmas Day.

It seems like the Clippers have it all. They're the only team in the league in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency. They run 10 or 12 deep. They have an MVP candidate, two All-Star starters, two Most Improved Player candidates and a Sixth Man candidate.

They have the best scoring margin in the NBA and don't have a single player on the team in the top-50 in the league in minutes per game (Alonzo Gee sees more action than any Clipper. Think about that.).

Oh, and they're currently the undisputed best team in LA for the first time ever, even after the Lakers dominated the offseason by acquiring Dwight Howard and Steve Nash.

So when you've got all that going for you, what is it that you wish for?

For starters, how about just wishing for more of the same? After all, they're on pace to win over 60 games and challenge for home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. Their best players are going to be well rested heading into the postseason and they'll have their best-ever shot at winning their first NBA title.

Not to get too greedy, but the Clips could use a couple of enhancements to help along the way as well.

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Lamar Odom finds himself in the familiar position of being an X-factor on a title contender.

They should wish for the return of the Real Lamar Odom. Thankfully, this seems to be happening already. Odom has picked it up as of late, averaging five points, seven rebounds, two assists and a block in 22 minutes a game over his last 12.

Over that stretch, the Clippers have outscored their opponents by more than 25 points per 100 possessions when Odom has been on the floor, per NBA.com. He's coming along slowly but surely.

If he can find his form from his Lakers days, the Clippers will be that much more dangerous being able to bring an adept two-way big man off the bench.

Another thing the Clippers should have on their Christmas wish list is health. They haven't suffered injury issues to their top-line guys yet, but veteran stalwarts Chauncey Billups and Grant Hill have yet to contribute their services due to lingering ailments.

Billups made a brief three-game return from a torn Achilles that ended his 2012 season prematurely, but tendinitis in his left foot has limited him to just 60 minutes of action this season. 

That's 60 more minutes than we've seen from Hill though, who has yet to make his Clippers debut because of a bone bruise in his right knee.

The Clippers will benefit from having those two veteran leaders back. Hill's defensive effort and reliability will provide another boost to the bench, while Billups' deadly outside shooting and steady playmaking ability will add another weapon to the starting five.

Lastly, the Clippers should wish for some clarity as to what will be their go-to crunch time lineup. Who are their best five guys?

With so many capable players on the roster, it's going to be a challenge to figure out which five players to throw out there at winning time...especially when two key guys haven't been added to the mix yet.

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Two five-man units (that have played substantial minutes) seem to stand out so far. Both of them include Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes. The only difference is whether you want to throw in Odom or DeAndre Jordan to round out the five. Both units outscore their opposition by more than 20 points per 48 minutes, according to NBA.com.

The quandaries go beyond simply picking one of these two lineups. Those units both leave out Eric Bledsoe, who is a defensive wrecking ball and sports the third highest PER on the team. It also leaves off Billups, who has a reputation as a clutch player and is the best pure shooter on the roster.

With so many compelling permutations, it will be difficult (yet necessary) to single out the one that will give the Clippers the best chance to win close games. Maybe Santa can help make it easy.

Note: Statistics used in the article are accurate as of Dec. 24.

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