FRIDAY FIVE: CLIPPERS MOST EFFICIENT LINEUPS
Due to injuries in the backcourt and personnel changes at small forward, the Clippers have not had consistent rotations or starting lineups like many other contenders. No five-man group for the Clippers has played more than 290 minutes together. Thirteen other teams, including Indiana, Portland, Oklahoma City and Golden State, have had at least one lineup on the floor for more than 490 minutes and the Blazers, Pacers and Timberwolves have five-man groups who have played in excess of 1,000 minutes together.
Still, the Clippers (50-22) have earned the fourth best record in the NBA entering play on Mar. 27, and boast two of the league’s most efficient units in the league. Here is a look at the top five lineups the Clippers have used this season, organized by net efficiency rating (minimum 100 minutes played together):
5. Dudley-Griffin-Jordan-Paul-Redick (+7.8)
The opening night starting lineup played every game together until Nov. 29. Chris Paul sat out with a strained hamstring in Sacramento and J.J. Redick was injured in the second quarter of that game. Paul and Redick have not been on the court at the same time since. In the 16 games they had their projected starters they went 11-5. Even in the early stages of learning Doc Rivers’ system, they were cranking offensively. They averaged 31 assists per 48 minutes and shot 50.0 percent from the field. They lost just once at home (mid-November to Memphis) and averaged 110.1 points per 48 minutes.
4. Barnes-Collison-Crawford-Griffin-Jordan (+11.2)
The lineup the Clippers used for a portion of Paul’s absence with a separated right shoulder. They were as efficient offensively as any other Clippers’ group, scoring 115.3 points per 100 possessions. The group has played 124 minutes together over the course of 25 games, but they have not played a single minute together since Paul returned on Feb. 9. It makes sense that replacing Paul with Darren Collison did not cause any real disruption in production for the Clippers. Collison has previous experience filling in for Paul and the offensive system allowed for Crawford and Griffin to take over some of the load as playmakers. Still, without Paul, this group had the worst assist-to-turnover ratio over 48 minutes (1.70) when compared to the other eight lineups that have played 100-plus minutes.
3. Collison-Crawford-Dudley-Griffin-Jordan (+13.4)
Between Jan. 4-20 this lineup started two games together and played big minutes otherwise when Redick went to bench in favor of Crawford. They were to poorest shooting group of the five best, going 46.2 percent from the field and 35.5 percent from 3-point range. Strangely, even with three players on the floor who are not known as rebounders, they averaged more than three rebounds per 48 minutes than the Clippers do as a team.
2. Barnes-Collison-Griffin-Jordan-Paul (+17.6)
The current starting lineup was 9-0 until their two-point loss at New Orleans on Mar. 26. They are efficient defensively (98.6 points per 100 possessions) because Collison provides ball pressure, Paul can get in passing lanes as he so often does and DeAndre Jordan can provide the wall in the back. They own a No. 2 ranking in the NBA at +17.6 in net efficiency, are shooting 52.9 percent ad get 10.9 steals per 48 minutes (second on Clippers among any of their 15 most-used lineups).
1. Barnes-Crawford-Griffin-Jordan-Paul (+19.2)
It is not only the best lineup the Clippers put on the floor, but in 233 minutes together they are the league’s most efficient lineup. They have an offensive efficiency rating of 119.5 points per 100 possessions (best on the team), score the fourth most points per game in the league per 48 minutes (113.8) and shoot a gaudy 52.9 percent from the field. It is also the same group that led the Clippers in efficiency last season as well, which means there’s likely something to be said for continuity even with a new coaching staff. Blake Griffin, Crawford and Paul are the team’s top three scorers. Jordan, Griffin, Paul and Barnes are the team’s top four rebounders. And they still give up just 99.0 points per 100 possessions.