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The Clippers have raised the bar for this roster

The past two weeks set a new standard for what the Clippers can achieve without Kawhi Leonard.

Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Clippers Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

The Clippers’ win streak came to an end Sunday, but the past week was still an overall success for the team. They showed an ability to dominate against a lesser opponent, flashed their Cardiac Clippers mojo, and were even resilient on a back-to-back against a solid Bulls crew.

There were some concerns about what the Clippers could hope to be after their 1-4 start — though none from the team itself. Now, it seems like the Clippers are closer to their Western Conference Finals form, when a shorthanded group still competed, even if that squad couldn’t exactly close out games. It’s a good spot to be in, with a high floor, and plenty of ceiling to explore. That is reflected in this week’s power rankings.


ESPN

This week: 12th | Last week: 20th

The Clippers suffered their first loss of November on Sunday when the Bulls, who increasingly look like one of the top teams in the league, snapped LA’s seven-game winning streak. The Clippers have looked a lot like the team that made the run to the Western Conference finals last season. They’ve defended and played with a lot of fun during this stretch, even with Kawhi Leonard and Marcus Morris out, and Serge Ibaka playing sparingly in just two of the games as the big man works his way back from injury. After a tough seven-game stretch, Eric Bledsoe is beginning to look like the point guard the Clippers envisioned. Paul George continues to play like a do-it-all MVP candidate, and Reggie Jackson is a catalyst when the Clippers are at their best.

NBA.com

This week: 10th | Last week: 18th

Paul George is a superstar. As the Clippers closed out their win over the Heat on Thursday, George hit an absolutely ridiculous shot with Tyler Herro in his shirt. A few minutes later, he made an incredible defensive play, going vertical to thwart Bam Adebayo at the rim. Turnovers have been an issue (he had three of the Clippers’ 20 in their loss to the Bulls on Sunday), but George is the only player averaging at least 25 points, five rebounds, five assists, and two steals. His team is 8-5 and he’s clearly its best player on both ends of the floor.

He can’t do it alone of course. The Clippers’ bench, led by Luke Kennard and Terance Mann, remains terrific. Nicolas Batum has an effective field goal percentage of 81.7% (best among 158 players with at least 50 field goal attempts) this month. And lo and behold, Eric Bledsoe has come alive to average 16.8 points (on an effective field goal percentage of 59%) and 5.3 assists over the last four games. The Clips are one of three teams — the Hawks and Spurs are the others — who have six players who have averaged double-figures in 10 games or more.

Sports Illustrated

This week: 8th | Last week: 16th

After a wretched start scoring the ball, the Clippers’ offense has finally woken up. Over the course of a seven-game winning streak (mostly against poor defensive teams but also the Heat), they registered the fourth-highest true shooting percentage in the league. Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard and Nicolas Batum have all exploded from behind the arc, while their defense has been terrific. Without Kawhi Leonard, Paul George is a legitimate MVP candidate and the Clippers aren’t going anywhere.

The Athletic

This week: 12th | Last week: 19th

Much like the Chicago Bulls above, the LA Clippers have been the chaos for their opponents. They’ve had two wild swings to start this season. They started the season with Paul George on an island, trying to carry a team without much help at all. They understandably went 1-4 in that stretch. Then the schedule softened up and showed the Clippers its belly in a submissive form. The Clippers have pounced. They won seven of eight games, and while three of those came against Minnesota, it’s the way they’re winning that matters. Tyronn Lue has done a brilliant job getting role players ready and engaged to build toward helping PG win games. Defense is great. Offense is solid. And the Clippers are currently surging.