Across the internet, sports media outlets are singing the LA Clippers’ praises. After a 3-0 week and a 19-5 post-All-Star stretch despite missing several core players, NBA writers have found it necessary to acknowledge the Clippers as their no. 1 team in their respective power rankings with three weeks remaining in the regular season.
Zach Harper of The Athletic, Collin Ward-Henninger of CBS Sports, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer, Mo Dakhil of Bleacher Report, John Schuhmann of NBA.com and Corey Rausch of Hoops Habit all slotted LA as their no. 1 team for week 18 of the 2020-21 NBA season. This by no means indicates these writers believe the Clippers are the best team in the league full-stop, but it does show that LA has been doing something right as of late.
ESPN was the only outlier, slating the Clippers at no. 4, trailing the Jazz, Nets and Suns. Still, the site’s panel of writers, including Tim Bontemps, Nick Friedell, Andrew Lopez, Tim MacMahon, Dave McMenamin, Royce Young and Ohm Youngmisuk, did move LA up a spot from their previous ranking.
Nearly all of the writers in the blogosphere noted that the Clippers achieved their perfect record last week (in which they defeated the Portland Trail Blazers, Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets) while missing quite a few of their core pieces. Kawhi Leonard did not play in any of these wins, as he’s been sidelined due to a sore right foot. While Paul George was active for the wins against Portland and Houston (he dropped 33 in each of these contests), he too sat for rest on the second night of a back-to-back against Memphis. The skeleton crew of Luke Kennard, Marcus Morris Sr., Terance Mann and Co. were able to pull out an improbable comeback against a tough Grizzlies team without either of their All-Star teammates.
The other common thread throughout the rankings was the affirmation of Paul George, who averaged 33 points in the two games he played last week. Taking a further step back, he’s scored 32 or more points in seven of his last eight games, averaging 32.9 points on splits of 51.6%/44.9%/91.6%. He’s playing arguably the best basketball of his Clippers career, and the timing couldn’t be better with just 10 games left before the postseason begins.
Say what you will about the national media, but they are giving LA props when they’re due.