Updated L.A. Clippers Player Power Rankings

Ehran Khan@@ekhansworldContributor IIIJanuary 2, 2013

Updated L.A. Clippers Player Power Rankings

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    It's clear that the Los Angeles Clippers have established themselves as legitimate championship contenders. A big reason why is that they have more players making positive contributions to their team than any other squad in the league.

    Of course, there are ups and downs throughout the season for NBA players. The Clippers are no exception. Guys who started the year like gangbusters have settled down, and those who were in the doldrums are now shining out. 

    Hence, these power rankings. Is Chris Paul still the most important player on the Clips? Answer: Yes.

    Meanwhile, Jamal Crawford was considered the early favorite for Sixth Man of the Year. Is he even the most valuable bench player on his own team at the moment? Answer: Click through to find out.


    Note: All statistics used accurate as of December 31.

10. Ronny Turiaf

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    After getting few minutes early in the year and even taking a couple DNP-CD's, Ronny Turiaf has now found a firm foothold in Vinny Del Negro's rotation as the backup center.

    Turiaf provides great effort and energy off the bench. His passion extends to everyone on the court and even the guys sitting on the sideline cheering him on.

    Over the Clippers' last 15 games, Turiaf is shooting nearly 53 percent from the field and blocking about two shots per 36 minutes. The Clips are outscoring their opponents by almost 15 points per 100 possessions over that time when he is on the floor, according to NBA.com. (Subscription required)

9. Willie Green

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    With Chauncey Billups on the shelf for much of the year, Willie Green has done an admirable job of stepping in and filling the void as the starting shooting guard.

    Green plays pesky defense and stretches the floor with his reliable jump shot. He's hitting close to 42 percent of his triples on the season and has been particularly deadly from the corners, where he's connecting on 52.8 percent of his attempts, per NBA.com. (Subscription required)

8. Caron Butler

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    After scoring in single digits in nine of 10 games between December 5 and December 27, Butler has picked it up over his last three, scoring at least 14 in each including a 29-point outburst against the Jazz in his last game.

    Butler's role has greatly diminished on this loaded roster. Once one of the best all-around players in the game, he's now asked to just play solid perimeter defense and hit open shots. Butler accepting his role and executing it to perfection is a big reason why the team is clicking.

    A career 33 percent shooter from deep, Butler is making 42.6 percent of his threes this season. If he keeps up anything close to that pace it will blow away his previous career-best mark for any season in which he played in at least 30 games.

7. Lamar Odom

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    After a truly miserable start to the season, Lamar Odom is finally playing himself back into shape.

    The former Sixth Man of the Year has shown flashes of his former self recently and is being relied upon more frequently by Vinny Del Negro to close games. 

    While he's still struggling offensively, Odom has been part of a ferocious second-unit defense for the Clippers. When he's on the court, the Clips are only allowing their opponents to score 90 points per 100 possessions (Subscription required), a mark far stingier than the league's second-stingiest defense.

6. DeAndre Jordan

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    DeAndre Jordan is another Clipper who has picked up his game recently. After seeing Lamar Odom eat into his minutes more and more, Jordan has played well enough to garner at least 30 minutes in each of his past two games.

    In those two contests, Jordan averaged 15 points, eight rebounds, 1.5 steals and 1.5 blocks. He has also knocked down 16 of his last 21 free-throw attempts, a major accomplishment for a guy shooting 44 percent from the stripe on the season.

    Jordan is scoring at a higher rate than he ever has in his career. He's also recording his best season in terms of PER and defensive rating, according to Basketball-Reference. Expect more of the same going forward.

5. Eric Bledsoe

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    It's a tough situation for Eric Bledsoe. For a long stretch he had the second-highest PER of any point guard in the entire league, but could only play limited minutes because he was a backup to the man that was first.

    Bledsoe still ranks seventh among point guards in PER, but his minutes have slowly declined as the season has wore on. Defensively, Bledsoe is a one-man wrecking crew, averaging 3.1 steals and 1.4 blocks per 36 minutes.

    He's improved significantly on offense too, nearly doubling his per-minute scoring and posting career highs in all shooting-percentage categories.

    With so much talent bottled up, you have to wonder if the Clippers have considered moving Bledsoe at some point if they can get a championship-caliber piece back.

4. Jamal Crawford

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    Jamal Crawford got off to a blistering start this season, but his momentum has slowed a bit, even as the team keeps streaking.

    After breaking the 20-point barrier 10 times in the first 19 games, he's done it just twice over the past 12. Crawford is shooting under 40 percent from the field and under 30 percent from three in his last 10 contests.

    That's trouble for the Clippers, because when he's not scoring at a prolific rate his defensive indifference can make him a liability.

3. Matt Barnes

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    Perhaps the hottest L.A. Clipper right now is Matt Barnes. Over his last 10 games, Barnes is averaging better than 14 points per contest on 57 percent shooting from the field and 46 percent from downtown.

    Barnes is doing what he always does, providing grittiness and hustle and being a solid two-way player. He's shooting better from the field than he ever has in his career and is on pace to set his career high in PER as well. 

    Want more proof of his value? He's third on the team in win shares per 48 minutes, and the Clippers are 17-0 when he scores in double figures off the bench.

2. Blake Griffin

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    The raw totals are down a bit from his career norms, but Blake Griffin is still the most dynamic player on the team. He's still a 20-10 guy, or he would be if he played as many minutes as he did last season.

    Griffin has continued to round out his game. He's knocking down more jumpers than ever before (40 percent shooting on mid-range jumpers, according to NBA.com) and boasts the third-highest assist percentage on the team.

    He's even showing an improved touch at the free-throw line, bouncing back from a terrible season at the stripe in 2012. As the season wears on and more is asked of Griffin, he'll keep answering the bell.

1. Chris Paul

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    Make no mistake, this is still Chris Paul's team. The Clippers will go as far as CP3 takes them. And he's the perfect captain to be steering the ship.

    No player in the entire league can control a game the way he can. He's practically unstoppable in the pick-and-roll, whether it's getting into the lane for a casual floater, pulling up at the elbow for an easy jumper or dishing the ball to the player in the best position to make the defense pay.

    Paul is shooting a robust 47 percent from the field despite not finding his three-point stroke yet, and he's averaging more steals per 36 minutes than he ever has in his career. If he keeps the Clippers at the top of the standings, Paul may be in line for a much-deserved MVP honor.