The Los Angeles Clippers have managed to win 23 of their last 30 games, beating plenty of real contending teams in the process. The trio of Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and James Harden has been too much for really any team to handle.

George and Kawhi have had plenty of time to gel, which is more than obvious watching them play, but it’s super nice to finally see Harden playing like the player we used to know.

Although with three superstars, their individual numbers are sure to decrease, as a team, they seem like a real juggernaut that’ll give hell to any team in the playoffs.

Big Three of Kawhi, George, and Harden

In recent years, it had started to look like the Los Angeles Clippers had no real offensive scheme, instead alternating between giving Kawhi and George isolation possessions. The team lacked a real playmaker, plain and simple.

So far this year, James Harden has done a near-perfect job filling the void at PG that the Clippers needed. While his individual numbers have dropped across the board, and his shooting attempts haven’t been this low since he played for OKC, he’s playing winning basketball.

By bringing the ball up the court and drawing so much of the defence’s attention, he’s able to dish dimes and give both Kawhi and Geroge way more space to create their shots. 

It’s a lose-lose situation for the defending team in the half-court. If you over-commit on Harden, you’ll get burned by the other two stars, and if you sag him off, he lights it up from beyond the arch.

On paper, it didn’t really seem like Harden made sense on this roster, but it’s certainly panning out quite well for the Clippers now.

James Harden Taking Fewer Shots

Over the last decade, James Harden has earned a reputation for being a great sorcerer – maybe even one of the best to ever do it. However, as we all know, this all-time scoring output didn’t really lead to any wins for any team he played on.

With the Clippers, he doesn’t have to shoulder the majority of the scoring load, which has freed him up to showcase his incredible basketball IQ. As we mentioned, this has been great not only for the team but also for Harden himself.

With career highs in shooting efficiency and assists, he has slotted perfectly into a facilitator role instead of drawing fouls and making it to the line. And although we’ve always respected Harden’s game, it’s nice to see him playing a different style of basketball.

If Harden can continue to put up all-time-great point guard numbers while staying a lethal offensive threat when needed, the Clippers are in a great spot. Let’s just hope it continues into the playoffs because Harden has a slight tendency to… well, choke.

Strong Perimeter Defence

At 14th in the league in terms of defensive rating, you may not think the Los Angeles Clippers have a strong defence. However, that’s where you would be wrong – the Clippers are a team built for the playoffs, and we won’t really see them shine until then.

Even with James Harden’s admittedly lacking defensive capabilities, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are on this team. The two of them are some of the best perimeter defenders in the league right now, and they will take it to another level come playoff time.

Kawhi and George will certainly lock in when it really matters, and with less of an offensive load, Harden will likely improve his effort on that side of the ball as well. Just look at Kawhi Leonard’s 2019 NBA finals run with the Raptors, where his defence made a huge difference.

The only area that should slightly concern fans is on the inside, as Ivica Zubac isn’t necessarily known for his rim protection, averaging just 1.4 blocks per game.

Offensive Harmony

As we briefly mentioned, the addition of James Harden completely shifted the way the Clippers’ offence worked. Instead of looking like a pickup game, where Kawhi and George alternate between isolation possessions, the offence flows and takes efficient shots.

Harden has taken up the role of floor general and has been facilitating for the 6th ranked offence with the number one three-point efficiency in the league. And between his sweet pick-and-roll action with Zubac and the Clipper’s amazing outside shooting, teams have simply had to pick their poison in most cases.

Offensive “harmony” and other qualities that make for truly great teams may not show up in the stat sheet, but it’s a quality that’s necessary for any real contending  NBA roster.

Season Outlook Going Forward

Currently sitting fourth in the Western Conference with a record of 27-14, the Clippers will likely improve upon that win percentage and may even touch 60 wins. While the Clippers are still five games behind the first seed, they’ve been heating up and could realistically finish as the first or second seed in the west.

Don’t get it twisted – they have some really bad matchups, especially with the Nuggets, but for the first time in ages, the Clippers look like they could make a deep playoff run. They simply need to find a way to plug up the inside, especially with all of the dominant big men currently abusing the NBA.

All-in-all, Clippers fans have reason to be happy for the first time in a long time, lets just hope this doesn’t end like the “Lob City” era.


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