|2012-13 Team Rating|
|4th Overall||5th Overall|
Stats through Jan. 22
The Clippers have had problems rebounding, from Blake Griffin in particular while having his minutes cut. Grant Hill, a possible starter at small forward, missed most of the first half with a knee injury.
Chris Paul continues to add to his MVP campaign. He needs the Clippers to maintain this pace to stay in the conversation. Willie Green has been the shooting guard in a limited role.
It's not just that the Clippers are one of the best defenses in the league. It's that they have made big gains even without expected key contributor Grant Hill.
Even with injuries to Hill and Chauncey Billups, even with a bad start for Lamar Odom, the Clippers may have the most depth in the league. Jamal Crawford is a leading contender for Sixth Man of the Year.
Wasn't Vinny Del Negro supposedly the L.A. coach in trouble when the season started? While Del Negro's work will be judged on how far the Clippers go in the playoffs, he's shed a lot of criticism.
The greatest statement of the Clippers' first half, and of their potential the rest of the way, is that so much is going right even when some important aspects have gone wrong. They're a legit contender in the West as is. Imagine when Billups and Hill get to 100 percent and if Odom makes a consistent contribution.
They were always legit, a top-four team in the conference no matter how many skeptics thought otherwise. But the first half has surpassed expectations. They are on pace for 61 wins without getting close to playing at their ceiling.
The intangibles have been very important. The leadership within the locker room is off-the-charts good, led by Paul, Billups and Hill. They have mostly been focused, except for the occasional blip every team goes through, and have been grounded amid injuries that could have resulted in a hit in the standings and the free-agent future of Paul that could have resulted in distraction. But ... nothing. Just a team going good while waiting to see how good it can be at full strength.
-- Scott Howard-Cooper
Explanation of Marking System
|Golden State Warriors||B+|
|Los Angeles Clippers||A-|
|Los Angeles Lakers||C-|
|New Orleans Hornets||C-|
|New York Knicks||A-|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||A|
|Portland Trail Blazers||B-|
|San Antonio Spurs||B+|