USA TODAY Sports
The Clippers have streaked their way to the top of every power ranking in the land.
Every major web site and a bunch of daily newspapers and other publications have weekly NBA power rankings. They don't matter a bit of course, beyond giving writers something to write about, and readers something to read and talk about.
Still as we await the biggest television day of the NBA regular season on Christmas, with the first third of the season in the books, guess which team sits atop very significant power ranking today? The Los Angeles Clippers, still battling the stigma of years of futility, are now considered the best team in the NBA by various pundits who consider these things.
It's not news to us around here of course. We made the case earlier in the week, a case that wasn't particularly dependent on Oklahoma City finally losing and ceding the longest winning streak in the league to the Clippers. Nonetheless, it seemed as if the realization was slow in coming for several analysts. As of last week there was no reasonable case to be made for any team other than the Thunder to be ahead of the Clippers, and yet several rankings had the LAC at three or four. Years of prejudice don't fade away easily.
And of course for those of here in Clips Nation, there was still the suspicion that someone somewhere would find an excuse NOT to put the Clippers on top even this week, despite the 13 game winning streak, despite the league best average margin of victory, despite being the only team in the league in the top five in both offensive and defensive efficiency.
But any paranoid fears were unjustified, because the Clippers are indeed the number one team in every power ranking I've looked at.
Here's what the judges had to say.
Marc Stein, ESPN.com: The Clippers are only the second team since the NBA/ABA merger in 1976-77 to take a 13-game win streak into a Christmas Day game along with Boston, which has done it twice (14-gamer in 2010-11 and a 19-gamer in 2008-09) in the KG era. They're also No. 1 in average point margin at plus-9.6.
Matt Moore, CBSSports.com: Wait, the Clippers have the best team in the land. Are we sure the world's not ending?
Marc Spears, Yahoo!: Los Angeles Clippers (21-6, previous ranking: second): The Clippers play host to the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 4. Good luck getting that ticket on a Friday night at Staples Center.
John Schuhmann, NBA.com: It wasn't hard to see this streak coming with the way the Clips' schedule lined up, but winning 13 straight games is never easy. Interestingly, the streak has been keyed by fewer turnovers on one end of the floor and fewer fouls on the other. The Clips have the No. 2 offense and the No. 1 defense in December and are the only team that ranks in the top five on both ends overall.
Matt Dollinger, Sports Illustrated (from Dec. 21): The Clippers have routed opponents by an average of 15.1 points during their winning streak. Utah is the only team to score 100 points against the Clippers in the last 11 games, and Los Angeles held Milwaukee, Detroit and New Orleans to an average of 79.3 points in victories this past week. To make things even better, Blake Griffin has returned to his Kia-hopping form, dunking everything and averaging 19.8 points (on 58.5 percent shooting) and 8.4 rebounds in December while getting plenty of rest (31 minutes per game this month). It's scary to think how good the Clippers are now and how much better they could be once at full strength.
Seth Rosenthal, SBNation.com: This is a "wait, why the hell did I have them so low before?" week for me and the Clippers. I don't think they HAVE to be above Oklahoma City just because a 13-game win streak trumps the Thunder's similar-but-interrupted-by-a-single-loss stretch; L.A. and OKC feel pretty equivalent to me in their dominance. That said, I'm letting this serve as my tiebreaker. Each time I gravitate toward the Thunder, Eric Bledsoe falls from the ceiling to kick me in the uvula.