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Clippers still aren’t seen as best team in NBA

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They come in at No. 2 in most rankings

NBA: JAN 24 Thunder at Clippers Photo by Carrie Giordano/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Clippers are riding a seven-game winning streak and are tied with the Lakers with the best record in the NBA at 13-4. However, most outlets don’t consider them to be the best team in the NBA still. Maybe once the Clippers get to a 15-game winning streak they’ll get the respect they deserve.

Here are this week’s power rankings.


ESPN

This week: 2

Last week: 2

Since blowing a 22-point lead to Golden State, the Clippers have won seven straight. Tyronn Lue’s team has taken advantage of a favorable portion of the schedule, but the streak has been impressive considering the Clippers haven’t played to full potential yet and are prone to offensive dry spells and defensive breakdowns. Kawhi Leonard is getting stronger with each game, averaging 32.3 points, 6.6 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals in the past three wins. But Patrick Beverley (knee) and Paul George (hamstring) did not finish Sunday’s win over the Thunder.


NBA.com

This week: 2

Last week: 2

The Clippers are in first place in the West, thanks to a seven-game winning streak and that opening-night win over the Lakers giving them the head-to-head tiebreaker. Paul George finally cooled off (shooting just 4-for-13) on Sunday, but Kawhi Leonard has been equally good, averaging 29.1 points on an effective field goal percentage of 64% (plus 97% at the line) over the streak. He’s still not getting to the basket all that much, but he’s made the most of his excursions to the rim, making 29 straight shots in the restricted area (which is just ridiculous) before missing off a spin move in the fourth quarter on Sunday.

Despite shooting 1-for-5 from 3-point range on Sunday, Nicolas Batum ranks sixth in effective field goal percentage among players with least 100 field goal attempts, up there with a few centers, Duncan Robinson and Joe Harris. In a back-and-forth battle, the Clips’ starters (+25.4) has the edge over the Lakers’ (+23.7) for the best point differential per 100 possessions among lineups that have played at least 100 minutes. Patrick Beverley did miss the second half on Sunday with a right knee issue.

The Clippers have two back-to-backs on a six-game trip that begins Tuesday in Atlanta. Leonard played both games of their most recent back-to-back (Jan. 5 and 6), but this will be a five-games-in-seven-days stretch starting Thursday.


CBS Sports

This week: 2

Last week: 2

The Clippers are rolling, winning three more games this week that weren’t particularly close. The only thing holding them back from the top spot is the quality of their wins (Kings and Thunder twice) compared to the Jazz, but the Clippers could have easily been No. 1 this week. Paul George had a relatively bad week after a torrid start, but Kawhi Leonard picked up the slack, averaging 32.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 5.0 assists. If we’re looking at potential long-term concerns, Lou Williams is still lost off the bench, scoring 20 total points in his last three games.


Sports Illustrated

This week: 2

Last week: 2

Don’t look now, but Kawhi Leonard is in the midst of a sneaky MVP candidacy through Los Angeles’s first 17 games. Leonard has tallied 30-plus points in three straight games, and he erupted for a 34-point, nine-rebound, eight-assist performance in Sunday’s win over the Thunder. The Clippers are cruising, and Leonard is in the midst of perhaps his most efficient offensive season. Perhaps he’s not a complete Terminator on the defensive end each night, but considering his offensive load, some rest on that end isn’t completely unwarranted. If the Clippers snag the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, Leonard could very well tally his fourth top-five MVP finish in the last six seasons.


Bleacher Report

This week: 1

Last week: 4

With a seven-game winning streak in hand, the Clippers take the top spot in the rankings. They have been dominant during this streak with a 17.1-point differential. Their defense, which was off to a slow start, was outstanding last week with a defensive rating of 100.7.

Even in the Clippers’ subpar offensive performance against the Thunder, their defense held OKC to just 100 points to keep their streak alive. There is no discussing the Clippers without talking about how good Paul George has been. He has been lighting it up all season and is flirting with the 50/50/90 club while averaging 23.9 points. It appears George has put the troubles from the bubble behind him, as he is playing the best basketball of his career.

The Clippers are rolling right now. They will be taking their show on the road with a six-game road trip that starts Tuesday.


The Athletic

This week: 2

Last week: 3

The LA Clippers had a phenomenal offense last season, ranking second in offensive rating by the end of the season. They finished behind a Dallas Mavericks offense that ended up being ranked No. 1 in NBA history. So far this season, we’re seeing the second-best offense in NBA history, and the only reason it’s not the best in NBA history (so far) is because the Milwaukee Bucks pulled ahead of them Sunday. Clippers are sharing the ball extremely well, and the offense is far less stagnant. Paul George is also producing at a ridiculous rate. Even with a slow game Sunday, he’s putting up 23.9 points on 67.0 percent true shooting. Prior to this season, only Steph Curry in 2017-18 accomplished at least 23 points per night on 67 percent true shooting or better.