Who is the most valuable Clipper after six weeks?
Nearly a quarter of the way through the 2013-14 regular season, it is time to rank the contributions of each player on the Los Angeles Clippers.
Even with championship aspirations the Clips have looked a bit pedestrian.
Lob City dropped its opening night matchup to the Los Angeles Lakers and a road game to the upstart Orlando Magic. In two potential Finals previews, the Clippers lost on the road to the Miami Heat and at home to the Indiana Pacers.
A wrist injury that will sideline J.J. Redick for 6-8 weeks only complicates things for LA’s other team. Until this squad is fully healthy, with Matt Barnes in the fold, it will be challenging to gauge the ceiling of this team.
Nevertheless, who has performed well early this season? How will the LA Clippers player power rankings play out?
We will rank the team in descending order from least valuable to most valuable based on on-court production and offseason expectations. Prior to the top ten, we will dedicate a slide to the guys that did not crack the top 10.
All statistics accurate as of December 1, 2013. All statistics used from NBA.com/Stats, Basketball-Reference.com and ESPN.com.
Bryon Mullens' defense has been atrocious this season.
The end of the bench has been rather underwhelming this season.
Still recovering from a knee injury that he sustained over the summer, Maalik Wayns has been sidelined the entire season. Ryan Hollins continues to play with tremendous effort and hustle, but his defense has been suspect at best.
The UCLA product is averaging 7.1 fouls per 36 minutes. His anemic 1.9 rebounds per game are further cause for concern. Supplemented by the horrific play of big man Byron Mullens, Hollins' poor performances have brought the Clippers’ frontcourt depth issues to the fore.
Mullens boasts a team-worst minus-18.3 net rating, and an abysmal 116.4 defensive rating. Of players that log at least eight minutes per contest, Mullens has the fifth-worst defensive rating in the entire league.
Despite a reputation as a three-point threat, Mullens is converting a lackluster 29.6 percent of his attempts from deep.
Unlike his end of the bench counterparts, Willie Green will be a player to watch over the next two months.
Although he appeared in just five of the Clippers’ first 17 games, Green was thrust into the starting lineup at shooting guard for the injured JJ Redick. It was a familiar position for Green, as he replaced the injured Chauncey Billups in the starting lineup multiple times last season.
Clippers fans hope that his opening stint against the Pacers will not be the norm.
In a 105-100 loss to Indy, Green scored just two points on just 1-of-5 shooting. His poor performance only magnified Redick’s absence.
Reggie Bullock might play regular minutes until Barnes and Redick return from injury.
2013-14 Stats: 2.6 PPG, 1.4 RPG, 6.27 PER
Breakdown: Appearing in 14 of the Clippers’ first 18 games, Reggie Bullock has looked energized on the defensive end and comfortable hanging out behind the arc on offense.
With injuries to Matt Barnes and Redick, Bullock has been relied upon to play key rotation minutes in the young season. In a road win against the Sacramento Kings, Bullock put up a plus-10 in 12 minutes of action off the bench.
After shaking off some early nerves, Bullock had his most complete game of the season against the Pacers. The rookie from UNC had his first game of double-digit scoring, netting 10 points in 19 minutes against the Pacers’ dominant defense.
Pushing a rookie into regular rotation minutes in light of injuries is anything but ideal. Hopefully Bullock will continue to improve, making this time a crucial development period for the young forward.
Dudley has struggled to find a consistent rhythm this season.
2013-14 Stats: 8.1 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 1.5 APG, 7.81 PER
Breakdown: After starting the regular season with three double-digit scoring efforts in his first four games, Jared Dudley has scored 10 or more points just 5 times over the last 14 games.
Expected to be the glue guy, 3-and-D starter in Lob City, Dudley has struggled with consistency.
Expected to step up in the absence of Redick, Dudley scored just five points on a measly 2-of-5 shooting in 37 minutes on the road in Sacramento. Dudley’s 7.8 PER is by far the worst of his career, albeit it is a small sample size.
The Boston College product will have to contribute on a much more effective and consistent basis, at least until Redick and Barnes return to the lineup.
Barnes has missed much of the season due to injury.
2013-14 Stats: 5.9 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 10.66 PER
Breakdown: Sidelined with a leg injury then a eye injury, Matt Barnes has appeared in just eight of the Clips’ first 18 games. Delving into Barnes’ underwhelming numbers is pretty useless, as he has not played more than four games in a row this season.
Rather than his on-the-court performance, Barnes made headlines for his use of a racial epithet in a tweet that cost him $25,000 following an ejection after an altercation with Serge Ibaka of the Thunder.
Barnes played an integral role on offense and defense for Los Angeles last season. Of the Clippers' five-man units that logged at least 50 minutes together, Barnes was featured in four of the five rotations with the highest net rating.
The Clippers’ need Barnes to assume a similar role once he is healthy.
Jamison has been thrust into the rotation in light of injuries to Barnes and Redick.
2013-14 Stats: 6.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 6.77 PER
Breakdown: Making his debut in the 15th game of the season against the Bulls, Antawn Jamison has already become the most dynamic big off the bench.
In light of poor performances by Mullens and injuries to Barnes, Jamison has logged at least 15 minutes in every game that he has appeared in. Although his defense is suspect, Jamison has found a way to connect with Paul and Blake Griffin in the Clips’ motion-heavy offense.
He was found in the paint on hard cuts against both the Pacers and the Kings. Jamison should earn regular minutes in the postseason, but the Clips would be foolish to rely on the 37-year-old as a crutch during the marathon regular season.
Ideally Jamison will just be a stopgap until Barnes and Redick return.
Collison's speed has allowed for some adept dribble penetration.
2013-14 Stats: 6.6 PPG, 1.9 APG, 13.22 PER
Breakdown: Despite shooting just 40.4 percent from the field this season, Darren Collison looks to be breaking out of his early season shooting slump. Over his last five contests, Collison has knocked down 19 of his last 37 field goals, good for 51.4 percent.
As the second unit is still forging an identity, Collison has become more of a scorer than a distributor. His 1.9 assists per contest are by far the lowest of his career, albeit in a small sample size.
Still, Collison has found ways to contribute. Although overmatched against the Pacers, Collison played 24 minutes in light of Redick’s absence, playing key minutes in a wild fourth quarter.
Never a noted defender, Collison has adapted somewhat to Doc Rivers’ defensive scheme. Although he becomes something of a blow-by artist against quick guards, Collison is rounding into form in the still-early season.
Redick's motion in the half court makes the Clips' offense especially potent.
2013-14 Stats: 15.8 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 2.0 APG, 18.41 PER
Breakdown: Redick is the perfect complement to Paul in the backcourt, so his injury will severely impact Los Angeles over the next two months.
Although the Clips will likely be able to hang around the upper echelon in the Western Conference sans Redick, the committee of Green, Collison and Crawford will struggle to match Redick’s nightly output.
Redick's 18.4 PER is the highest of his career. Coincidentally, his 54.3 effective field goal percentage is also a career best.
The Duke standout's offensive contributions are best seen in the half court. Looking like a vintage Rip Hamilton, Redick is always in motion, whizzing around and forcing the defense out of position.
According to the player tracking services on NBA.com, Redick averages 6.6 catch and shoot points per game, making him the only Clipper to be in the top 15 among players that log more than 25 minutes per contest.
Redick’s contributions have been stellar. Although not a fatal blow, losing Redick will certainly hurt as Lob City jockeys for early-season playoff positioning over the next six to eight weeks.
Crawford is thriving in his second season in Los Angeles.
2013-14 Stats: 16.0 PPG, 2.7 APG, 2.3 RPG, 17.79 PER
Breakdown: The runner-up Sixth Man of the Year in 2012-13, Jamal Crawford is performing like a super-sub again this season.
Crawford’s 45.2 percent shooting from the field and 38.6 percent shooting from behind the arc are the second-best marks of his career. The man with the smoothest crossover in all of basketball continues to dazzle fans at the expense of perimeter defenders.
If you need proof, just ask Lance Stephenson.
Despite his isolation-heavy offense, Crawford has become a nice alternative to the methodical efficiency of Redick. Even without his backcourt running mate Eric Bledsoe, Crawford has continued to thrive off the bench.
The Washington product’s clutch factor is still prevalent as well.
Crawford is fifth in the league in fourth-quarter scoring, averaging 7.3 points in the final frame. Among the four players boasting better fourth-quarter averages include James Harden, Kevin Durant and LeBron James.
Not bad company for the early favorite for Sixth Man of the Year.
Jordan has been a monster on the glass this season.
2013-14 Stats: 10.0 PPG, 12.8 RPG, 2.2 BLKPG, 16.77 PER
Breakdown: Imbued with the confidence of new head coach Doc Rivers, DeAndre Jordan has been playing the best basketball of his career. Averaging a double-double, Jordan is shattering his career averages of 6.8 PPG and 6.9 RPG.
Through his first 18 contests, Jordan posted seven double-doubles. He has finished with single digit rebounds in just four of those games.
DJ’s 2.2 blocks per game are the fourth-best in the league. Although his defense has improved, it is still not at an elite level.
Despite manning the back line, Jordan is allowing opponents to convert 59.2 percent of their field goal attempts at the rim, per NBA.com.
As a comparison to Jordan, the Thunder’s Ibaka is allowing opponents to convert just 46.3 percent of their attempts, while the Pacers’ Roy Hibbert is holding opponents to just 36.9 percent in the same context.
Even with some of his defensive lapses, Jordan is contributing at a high level on the glass.
Clipper Nation has much to rejoice in light of Jordan’s improved play. Nearly a quarter of the way through the season, Jordan is in the conversation for Most Improved Player.
Now if only he could improve his effectiveness from the free-throw line.
Griffin has been remarkable this season.
2013-14 Stats: 21.2 PPG, 11.1 RPG, 2.9 APG, 20.84 PER
Breakdown: Early into another superstar campaign, Blake Griffin is playing some of the best basketball of his career.
Under Rivers’ coaching, Griffin has become a serious threat operating from the elbow. According to NBA.com’s SportVU player tracking service, BG averages 12.2 touches from the elbow, the second-highest mark in the league.
Griffin is either beating slower defenders to the rim or forcing defenses to step out and contest his much-improved jump shot. The three-time All-Star is knocking down nearly 48 percent of his mid-range jumpers from either side of the elbow.
Despite operating away from the hoop, Griffin is still earning his touches in the post, bruising weaker opponents in the process.
Griffin averages 5.3 touches per game from within 12 feet of the hoop, per NBA.com. He is one of just six players to finish in the top 15 in both elbow touches and touches within 12 feet.
The forward has not given up on his typical pyrotechnics either. Routinely, Griffin continues to make the incredible look easy.
Paul sets the pace for the Clippers.
2013-14 Stats: 18.9 PPG, 12.1 APG, 4.9 RPG, 2.3 SPG, 27.51 PER
Breakdown: The Clippers’ most valuable player Chris Paul is off to a torrid start this season.
The Point God’s play has been so transcendent that he even bested Magic Johnson’s NBA record of 11 straight points-assists double-doubles to start the season. Among those gems included a 42 point, 15 assist and six-steal performance in a 126-115 win over the Golden State Warriors.
Paul is not only leading the league in assists, but is also leading the league in points created by assist per game, per NBA.com. His game goes beyond just distributing, as his 27.51 PER is the third-highest in the league, only behind King James and Anthony Davis.
Paul is playing nothing short of MVP-quality basketball this season.