Mar 28 2013 4:27PM

Playoff Contention: Los Angeles Clippers

In Playoff Contention, we spotlight the 16 playoff teams to see where they stand as they head into the playoffs.

Previous teams

EAST: Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks

WEST: Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies


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Chris Paul and Blake Griffin have grown into a dynamic duo that may be on par with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, Tim Duncan and Tony Parker or Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Unlike the aforementioned three Big 2's, CP3 and Blake's Lob City isn't yet competing for a No. 1 seed, although a .606 to .681 winning-percentage improvement is a step in the right direction. Chemistry is improving on the team, with fifth-year Clip Jordan outrunning all opposing centers, Caron Butler and Matt Barnes holding down the 3 spot at various times, along with Eric Bledsoe and Jamal Crawford strengthening the guard depth as the whole team awaits to see if 40-year-old Grant Hill can revive his game for the playoffs, as 36-year-old Chauncey Billups and 33-year-old Lamar Odom are doing in different phases of their games. That's quite the run-on sentence for quite the run-on team that is still yet to find its true identity. Even though the championship potential is there, it's doubtful Coach Vinny Del Negro can maintain the right championship mix for sustained minutes in this wild, wild West if he hasn't done so already.

GO-TO LINEUPS
Last year and the first half of this season, the Clippers sported good lineups with their core four (Paul, Griffin, Jordan and Butler), either playing with ex-Clipper shooting guard Randy Foye (+7.3 net rating in 648 minutes with the core four in 2011-12) or current Clip Willie Green (+7.8 net rating in 579 minutes with the core four in 2012-13). But everybody knew Lob City's starting lineup could not reach its full potential unless Billups--Mr. Big Shot himself--was playing alongside Paul. The numbers bore that out in limited time last year when the core four played with Billups (+14.9 in 272 minutes in 2011-12) and they prove it so again in 2012-13 (+12.8 in 247 minutes). Yes, it's a small sample size, but it is the lineup the organization, media and fans all envisioned when this team was first assembled 15 months ago. It also sets up the killer A Tribe Called Bench lineup that features Bledsoe, Crawford, Barnes, Odom and Ronny Turiaf (+11.2 net rating in 270 minutes together).

THE 5,000 MINUTE RULE
The 5,000 Minute Rule says most championship teams have five-plus players together for at least 5,000 minutes before they win a championship, and the Clippers are a year away from possibly reaching that mark. Griffin (8159 minutes with the Clippers), Jordan (7752) and Odom (6966, if you count his previous stint with the Clips in his first four years in the league from 1999-2000 through 2002-2003) have met the criteria. Still waiting to join The Clippers 5G Club are Paul (4606), Bledsoe (3865) and Butler (3808).

LORD OF THE RINGS
For a franchise that has never won an NBA championship, the Clippers have their share of ring bearers with Billups a.k.a. Mr. Big Shot winning Finals MVP honors with the 2004 Pistons championship team; Odom owning two rings, playing a big role with the 2009 and 2010 Lakers championship squads; Butler, a starter on the 2011 Mavericks championship team before he got hurt and wasn't able to play in the NBA Finals.

CHAMPIONSHIP CHANCES
Hollinger Playoff Odds say the Clippers have a 14.8 percent chance to reach the 2013 NBA Finals and 8.6 percent shot to win the NBA championship; Basketball-Reference says the Clips have a 12.8 percent shot to reach the 2013 NBA Finals and 6.8 percent chance to win the title.


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2012-13 CLIPPERS (.681)

C DeANDRE JORDAN: 72 games, 24.3 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 18.7 PER, +8.1 Net, +3.2 On/Off

C Ronny Turiaf: 61 games, 11.0 mpg, 2.0 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 11.4 PER, +3.8 Net, -2.7 On/Off

C Ryan Hollins: 50 games, 9.8 mpg, 3.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 12.3 PER, +0.7 Net, -6.7 On/Off

PF BLAKE GRIFFIN: 70 games, 32.6 mpg, 18.4 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 24.0 PER, +6.9 Net, +1.3 On/Off

PF Lamar Odom: 72 games, 20.3 mpg, 4.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 11.4 PER, +8.8 Net, +4.0 On/Off

SF MATT BARNES: 70 games, 26.1 mpg, 10.5 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 16.2 PER, +6.5 Net, +0.1 On/Off

SF Caron Butler: 68 games, 24.6 mpg, 10.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 11.9 PER, +6.2 Net, -0.6 On/Off

SF Grant Hill: 26 games, 15.6 mpg, 3.2 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 4.2 PER, +0.2 Net, -7.1 On/Off

SF DaJuan Summers: 2 games, 3.5 mpg, 1.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 2.3 PER, -6.7 Net, -15.5 On/Off

SG JAMAL CRAWFORD: 66 games, 29.5 mpg, 16.7 ppg, 2.5 apg, 15.7 PER, +7.1 Net, +1.4 On/Off

SG Chauncey Billups*: 20 games, 19.1 mpg, 8.2 ppg, 2.2 apg, 14.1 PER, +4.7 Net, -2.0 On/Off

SG Willie Green: 63 games, 16.4 mpg, 5.9 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 10.8 PER, +4.6 Net, -2.6 On/Off

PG CHRIS PAUL: 60 games, 33.4 mpg, 17.0 ppg, 9.6 apg, 27.1 PER, +8.6 Net, +5.1 On/Off

PG Eric Bledsoe: 66 games, 20.8 mpg, 8.8 ppg, 3.1 apg, 18.5 PER, +4.4 Net, -3.4 On/Off

PG Maalik Wayns: 24 games, 8.0 mpg, 2.8 ppg, 1.1 rpg, 4.3 PER, +12.0 Net, +4.9 On/Off

2011-12 GONE CLIPPERS (.606)

SG Randy Foye: 65 games, 25.9 mpg, 11.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 13.5 PER, +1.2 Net, -2.2 On/Off

PG Mo Williams: 52 games, 28.3 mpg, 13.2 ppg, 3.1 apg, 15.0 PER, -1.9 Net, -7.7 On/Off

SG Nick Young: 62 games, 27.9 mpg, 14.2 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 12.9 PER, +1.1 Net, -4.8 On/Off

PF Kenyon Martin: 42 games, 22.4 mpg, 5.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 9.9 PER, +1.4 Net, -1.9 On/Off

PF Reggie Evans: 56 games, 13.8 mpg, 1.9 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 9.2 PER, -11.6 Net, -18.1 On/Off

SF Ryan Gomes*: 32 games, 13.3 mpg, 2.3 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 4.4 PER, -8.6 Net, -12.6 On/Off

SF Bobby Simmons: 28 games, 14.9 mpg, 2.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 6.0 PER, -0.5 Net, -3.6 On/Off

C Trey Thompkins*: 24 games, 5.0 mpg, 2.4 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 12.0 PER, -28.3 Net, -31.8 On/Off

SG Travis Leslie*: 10 games, 4.5 mpg, 1.4 ppg, 0.9 rpg, 14.6 PER, -29.3 Net, -32.0 On/Off

* Clipper who did not play in 2012 NBA Playoffs; returning players in boldface

SOURCES: Team's Net Rating and Team's' On/Off Net Rating from NBA, Player Efficiency Rating from ESPN; other advanced statistics from Basketball-Reference.