This is part of an eight part series examining the NBA’s top title contenders. Competition is tough this year as the West has five real threats and the East has three. Out West the Jazz, Suns, Nuggets, Clippers, and Lakers. In the East the 76ers, Nets, and Bucks.
Why They Will
It all starts with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Leonard is 7th in player efficiency rating at 26.0. He’s averaging 24.8 ppg, 6.5 rebounds and 5.2 assists while shooting 51.2% overall and 39.8% from three. Paul George is averaging 23.3 ppg, 6.6 rebounds and 5.2 assists while shooting 46.7% overall and 41.1% from three. As a team, they rank 4th at 118.6 in points per 100 possessions offensively and 2nd in offensive effective field goal percentage at 57%. On defense they’re 9th in points per 100 at 111.8 and 9th defensively in opponent effective field goal percentage at 53.6%. It’s no wonder Clippers fans think this is the year their team finally wins a fucking title.
The Clippers are also 6th in opponent offensive rebound percentage at 23.6%. The biggest strength is the team’s three point shooting as they have the 13th highest attempt rate but are 1st in team three point percentage at 41.1%. Marcus Morris, Lou Williams, Serge Ibaka, and Reggie Jackson have provided good play around this team’s two superstars. On both ends of the floor, this team seems to know what they’re doing. The Clippers have everything in place to get it done – it’s just a matter of whether or not they’ll get in their own way again.
Why They Won’t
The biggest thing that could be in this team’s way is if they prove to still be more of a collection of players rather than a team. Kawhi is a robot and just simply put we don’t know if this team has the leader it needs to get the job done. This year the team has played a lot more together than last but we’ll see how together they are when tested in a tough hard fought playoff series. In the West the competition is very strong and it’s unlikely they could make it to the finals let alone win it without playing two tough series. While great at threes they aren’t as good with two pointers. They rank 18th in that area at 52.9%. If three’s aren’t falling it could get ugly.
All stats are from Cleaning the Glass and Basketball Reference