Depth, Not Dunks, Makes LA Clippers Toughest Team to Beat in NBA

Maxwell Ogden@MaxwellOgdenCorrespondent IIIDecember 27, 2012

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 25:  Blake Griffin #32 of the Los Angeles Clippers hugs teammate Jamal Crawford #11 after Crawford was substituted out of the game against the Denver Nuggets in the second half during the NBA game at Staples Center on December 25, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. The Clippers defeated the Nuggets 112-100. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

Thus far in 2012-13, the Los Angeles Clippers have taken the NBA by storm. They have a league-best record of 22-6 and haven't lost a game since November 26th—over one month ago.

Contrary to popular belief, it is depth, not dunks, that makes the L.A. Clippers the toughest team to beat in the NBA.

With a strong balance between offensive firepower and defensive brilliance, the Clippers have become the best two-way threat in the league. With that being said, there is more to the Clippers' success than basic statistics.

It is about how deep they are at each and every position. Just don't think we won't acknowledge the stats.

During their 14-game winning streak, the Clippers have an average margin of victory of 15.4 points per game. This has come with 103.6 points scored and 88.2 points allowed per contest.

So how are they getting it getting done?

From their plethora of ball-handlers to their elite man-to-man defenders, the Clippers are dominant along the perimeter. With veterans beginning to improve from a production standpoint, their interior is becoming equally as powerful.

DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin's respective progressions certainly haven't hurt, either.

As we all know, however, it all starts with the stars. With Chris Paul at point guard and Griffin at power forward, the Clippers have legitimate game-changers on the interior and exterior.

Just don't forget about the lesser names who parallel their production. The ones who are directly responsible for the wins and losses.

You know, when they eventually lose.


Second Unit: Offense

The Los Angeles Clippers channel the label of "elite" with a starting lineup of Chris Paul, Willie Green, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan.

It just so happens that their second unit is of equal potency. In fact, their second unit may be even more powerful.

The Clippers' reserves are averaging a league-high 42.7 points per game. To put that into perspective, the starters are averaging 50.9 points.

It doesn't stop there.

The Clippers' second unit ranks fourth in the NBA with 8.6 assists and is fifth in field-goal percentage at 46.3. They also rank fifth in free-throw attempts, which displays how dynamic they are at attacking the rim.

A league-high efficiency rating of 50.8 provides the additional evidence necessary.


Second Unit: Defense

Not only are the Los Angeles Clippers' reserves posting a league-high efficiency rating of 50.8, but they rank first in defensive rating. Not only are they atop the league, but they are significantly further ahead of their opposition.

The Clippers sit at 18.2, while the second-ranked San Antonio Spurs rest at 14.0.

For further perspective, the fourth-ranked Dallas Mavericks rank at 9.3—nearly half the Clippers' number. Dominance.

The L.A. reserves are averaging 18.2 rebounds per game, thus ranking fourth in the league. They top the ranks with 4.7 steals and sit at second with 3.7 blocks.

They rank sixth in opponent field-goal percentage at 42.1 percent. Enough proof?


Positional Breakdown: Backcourt

Thus far in 2012-13, the Clippers backcourt is averaging 47.7 points, 15.6 assists, 9.5 rebounds and 5.6 steals per game.

Led by All-NBA point guard Chris Paul and former Sixth Man of the Year Jamal Crawford, the Clippers have the proper balance of facilitating and scoring. They also have defensive tenacity with CP3 and Eric Bledsoe.

So where do you attack?

If an opposing defense were to trap Paul, they'd allow Crawford to find a hole in the perimeter. In that instance, Crawford could down an opponent with his jump shot or capitalize on his unparalleled handles.

Crawford is shooting 61.6 percent in the restricted area, 37.8 percent from mid-range and 38.1 percent from beyond the arc.

If one decides to trap Crawford, Paul's smooth shooting will be just as lethal. 45.3 percent from mid-range and 39.7 percent from above the break.

As for running an uptempo offense to throw them out of rhythm, Paul and Bledsoe are two of the top defenders in the league.

For numerical proof, they rank first and second in the NBA in terms of steals per 48 minutes. Bledsoe is even averaging 0.8 blocks per game as a 6'1" point guard averaging 18.4 minutes a night.

Good luck.


Positional Breakdown: Frontcourt

Through 28 games, the Clippers frontcourt is averaging 53.9 points, 32.4 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 5.3 blocks and 5.2 steals per game. 

With All-Star power forward Blake Griffin and athletic defensive stopper DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers have a powerful balance of scoring and rim-defending. Griffin's team-high average of 18.1 points per game proves such.

As does Jordan's team-high 1.6 blocks per game.

Coming off of the bench, former NBA champions Lamar Odom and Ronny Turiaf provide veteran leadership. Odom has averaged 7.0 rebounds and 0.9 blocks during the Clippers' 14-game winning streak.

With Matt Barnes and Caron Butler providing smothering D and Barnes finding his scoring touch, the frontcourt becomes all the more powerful. Something that is rather fascinating considering Grant Hill has yet to play a game.

Two-way balance, athletic explosiveness and veteran leadership. The perfect recipe for success.


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