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Power Rankings Watch: Clippers on the Hunt

The Clippers have thrown down the gauntlet burdening their shoulders for the last six weeks. At last, they've cast off those shackles, and now they're throwing down a gauntlet of their own to the rest of the Western Conference, letting both the heavyweights and the posers know who the Cheetos-colored dark horse in town is.

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Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Power Rankings

Outlet Ranker Ranking Change Comment
SB Nation Drew Garrison 6 +1 Chris Paul for Most Valuable Player? SB Nation's Tom Ziller made a convincing case. Paul seems like a dark horse candidate at best, but the numbers are hard to ignore.
ESPN Marc Stein 7 +1 Interesting discussion on Sunday night's NBA Insiders show on ESPN Radio. According to the panel consensus, only three teams out West -- Golden State, San Antonio and Memphis -- are title material. Today's question: Have the Clips been consistent enough to quibble with that claim?
CBS Sports Matt Moore 7 +1 Considering who they've beaten lately (the Wizards, Pelicans, and Thunder in the last two weeks), I want to move them higher. But every time I buy Clippers stock, those shares fall off a cliff. I'm holding off on buying in until April. Promising signs, though.
Yahoo! Marc Spears 5 +4 Don’t be surprised if the Clippers, winners of four straight, move up to third in the West soon. Houston and Portland are doing their part to help L.A. David Aldridge Unavailable John Schuhmann 6 +2 The Clippers have taken advantage of their schedule to win four straight (with Chris Paul averaging 26.0 points and 11.3 assists) and remain in the conversation for the No. 3 or 4 seed in the West. But Jamal Crawford's calf injury is a major concern and the idea of Austin Rivers being the first guy off the bench in the playoffs is a real, scary thing.
Sports Illustrated Matt Dollinger 7 +3 As strong as the Clippers have been of late, the competition has been not. L.A. is 8–4 this month, but has lost to Golden State, Portland, Dallas and Houston. A four-game winning streak which features wins over three non-playoff teams doesn’t erase all concerns.
Pro Basketball Talk Kurt Helin 7 +1 Coach Doc Rivers and the Clipper organization is promoting DeAndre Jordan for Defensive Player of the Year. He doesn’t deserve it, but that’s another discussion. Here is what Doc Rivers said about promoting players for awards: "It’s good to support players. I don’t know if I believe in it or not, if you want my real answer, but I think that’s what you should do. Because that’s what every other team does."
USA Today Conglomerate 7 0 Chris Paul, always tough on young point guards, is 7-1 in matchups with the Wizards' John Wall.
/r/nba Conglomerate 7 +1 Unlike the rest of their peers in the West, the Clippers can actually ride smoothly into the postseason on a slate of lesser teams, having one of the easiest schedules in the league down the home stretch. With that in mind, don't be surprised at all to see them back in the three seed within a week or two. Frequently derided or disregarded, the Clips are beating injuries and consolidating their augmented depth, with only Jamal Crawford still recovering. They've had their minds on the playoffs for the whole year, and now they're rounding into postseason form just in time to make some noise.
Average 6.6 +1.6

Metrics Watch

Metric Number Ranking
Win Percentage .648 5th
EWP .711 2nd
Margin of Victory +5.65 2nd
Net Efficiency +5.8 2nd
Simple Rating System 6.18 2nd
RPI .549 T-4th
Hollinger Rankings 106.07 2nd
Strength of Schedule .523 T-2nd

After entering the last power rankings period fresh off a tough pair of losses to the Rockets and Mavs, the Clippers regained some of that lost luster today by virtue of their solid performance over the past week.

With the Hawks' recent slump, the Clippers are now back into 2nd in most of our selected metrics, not an unfamiliar position to those loyal readers of this column. The Mavericks blowout did a number on some of these, but those will happen every once in a while. What's more important is that the way the Clippers are playing they'll be able to soon close some more of that gap between those rankings and their actual record.

Despite their schedule easing up in the past week, the Clippers are still tied (with the Lakers) for the second-toughest schedule this year by opponent win percentage. Expect that to change by this time next week.