TOP 5 CLIPPERS LINEUPS IN 2012-13
After more than three months of players shuffling in and out of the lineup, the Clippers have been at relative full strength for a little more than two weeks in February. Integrating Chauncey Billups back in with the starters is just one of several small tweaks that the team has undergone and they are still trying to fit everyone into certain roles.
“It is going to take a little time [for roles to take shape],” Clippers head coach Vinny Del Negro said Monday. “We’ve got to work through it. Every game’s a great challenge for us and great opportunity for us [to do that].”
There are 24 games left to do that before the playoffs and while Del Negro has been forced to deal with various rotations and lineups due to injury throughout the first 58 games, the Clippers have still reached 40 wins faster than any other time in franchise history. It is a testament, in all likelihood, to the team’s depth and chemistry and ability to win in a variety of ways, including getting contributions from different combinations of players.
Here is a look at the top five lineups the Clippers have used this season, organized by plus/minus per 48 minutes (minimum 50 minutes played together):
It is the most used lineup on the year. They have played 520 minutes in 34 games together and started 14 of the team’s 17 games during the Clippers’ record winning streak. Of the 13 lineups that saw the most court time, the group of Caron Butler, Willie Green, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul is the fourth highest scoring per 48 minutes, averaging 101.3 points per game. With the offense running primarily through Paul and Griffin, the unit had an assist on every 1.5 field goals.
The scoring was particularly dominant at home. In 21 games at Staples Center the group averaged 105.2 points per 48 minutes and shot 50.9% from the field. They have only started seven games together since Jan. 1, due to Paul’s bruised right kneecap and more recently the return of Chauncey Billups to the lineup after a 34-game absence.
4. Barnes-Bledsoe-Crawford-Odom-Turiaf (+8.7)
Call them the Lob Mob or Lobb Deep or A Tribe Called Bench or something all your own, the group of Matt Barnes, Eric Bledsoe, Jamal Crawford, Lamar Odom and Ronny Turiaf helped the Clippers off to a franchise-best 32-9 mark through the first half of the season. They were predicated on defense, getting 11.7 steals and 44.4 rebounds per 48 minutes. Both numbers are in the top three in the Clippers’ best 15 lineups.
The group proved a little erratic, committing 17.1 turnovers per 48 minutes, a number that was consistent at home and on the road. However, in 17 home games together they were dominant in nearly every other category. They averaged 26 fast break points, 26 points off turnovers and more than 24 blocks and steals combined per 48 minutes to put up a whopping +17.4.
3. Barnes-Bledsoe-Crawford-Griffin-Odom (+17.3)
This group is basically the bench with Griffin replacing Turiaf. They played 103 minutes together over 32 games and is most often seen in the final minutes of the first and third quarter of games. They are especially efficient shooting the ball, shooting at a 48.6% clip overall and 57.7% in eight February games together.
The inclusion of Griffin surrounds Crawford’s overall scoring with a second player that defenses have to be keenly aware of, opening things up for Barnes’ slashing and Bledsoe and Odom’s ability to create for others. Their success in February has come in small doses, but has resulted in a +39.0 in 32 minutes. They are averaging 105.0 points per 48 minutes this month.
2. Billups-Butler-Griffin-Jordan-Paul (+19.1)
The current starting lineup is also the second best overall lineup the Clippers have and they will likely only get better. They have a 7-2 record together this season, starting the first three games of the 17-game winning streak and six of the last seven games recently. They are deadly efficient from 3-point range, shooting 45.6% on 13.2-for-29.0 attempts, and average 112.3 points per 48 minutes.
Much of this can be attributed to Billups, who is still being restricted to about 20 minutes per game. He helps spread the floor, opening things up for Jordan and Griffin, and also frees up Butler to be more effective as a scorer off the ball. They assist on 65% of their made baskets and are scoring 119.4 points per 48 minutes in February. One sign that they still could improve, though, is that they are not one of the best Clippers’ groups when it comes to turnovers. They commit 15.0 miscues per 48 minutes (sixth best among the top 15 lineups), a number that will likely decrease as they continue to play together through March and April.
1. Barnes-Crawford-Griffin-Jordan-Paul (+35.9)
Basically, four of the team’s top five scorers and its top two rebounders make up the best lineup the Clippers have offered up this year. In 31 games and 103 minutes together, this group scores 120.7 points, shoots 52.7% and commits only 13.5 turnovers per 48. Opponents shoot 38.6% against them and score just 84.8 points per game.
The Clippers have a record of 25-6 when this group plays at least one minute together and are effectively one of the most dominant teams in the league. No other NBA team has a lineup that has played 100 minutes or more and averages more than 120 points. Why is the Barnes-Crawford-Griffin-Jordan-Paul group so good? It is likely the best combination of defense and offense the Clippers can put on the floor at once. Jordan protects the rim and allows the other four to gamble on the wing. They are supremely athletic, run the floor, score the ball well and do not make mistakes.