Morillo: The Clippers are one of the hottest teams in the NBA

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Clippers graphic. - Multimedia Editor / Drew Peltzman

James Harden was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers on Oct. 31, 2023. Following his debut, the Clippers lost five games in a row, raising questions about his fit on the team. Things were rough to begin the Harden era in Los Angeles, but that soon changed, as the Clippers rattled off an eight-game win streak.

The Clippers’ win streak is impressive for several reasons. Five of the eight teams they beat are in playoff contention as of right now, with two of their eight wins coming against the Golden State Warriors, who are more than likely to miss the playoffs.

Now, the Clippers are 9-1 in their last 10 games. Although they are 4.5 games behind the one-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves, they are only two games behind the second-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder.

The problem with the Clippers was never their defense; instead, it was scoring. Although they have four future Hall of Famers, they didn’t seem comfortable playing together.

In November, they ranked 26th in points per game (PPG). However, in December, that number jumped all the way up to fourth. For the season, the Clippers are 11th in offensive rating, seventh in defensive rating, fifth in net rating, and tenth in true shooting percentage. If you are into advanced analytics, then you will understand how impressive these stats are.

This recent offensive surge is being driven by the team’s superstars. In the last ten games, Kawhi Leonard is averaging 29.1 PPG while shooting 63 percent from the field, Paul George is averaging 19.1 PPG while shooting 40 percent from three, and James Harden is averaging 20.5 PPG with 9.1 assists. These numbers are extremely telling of how well the Clippers’ big three are playing together as of late.

The most important thing when it comes to the Clippers is availability. Whether you deem it to be fair or not, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are seen as the faces of load management. The Clippers star duo hasn’t had a healthy playoff run since the NBA bubble in 2020.

So far this season, Kawhi Leonard hasn’t missed a single game, and Paul George has only missed one. If the Clippers’ star players can stay healthy throughout the entirety of the NBA season and the playoffs, there is a good chance they can win an NBA championship.

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