Stats Tell Part of the Story for Disappointing Clippers

The LA Clippers went into the 2014–2015 NBA seasons with high hopes for a franchise-best season, maybe including a legitimate title shot. Instead, over the first 14 games of the season, they are a disappointing 9-5, and sitting three games behind the Pacific Division leading Golden State Warriors. At this time last season, the Clippers were an identical 9-5, and on Thanksgiving Day, they were 11-5. But, Golden State was 9-8, as were the Lakers and Phoenix, and the Clippers were in first place in the division with a 2-1/2 game lead, instead of being three games out. Perhaps some stats can partially

explain the team's seeming regression.

Last season, the Clippers averaged 107.9 points per game. So far this year, that number is down to 103.3. Every returning regular is down in their per-game scoring average from last season, but bench scoring shows an even bigger deficit. The starters:

2013-2014 Per Game Average
2014-2015 Per Game Average
Blake Griffin24.121.6
Chris Paul19.118.9
J. J. Redick15.212.3
DeAndre Jordan10.48.1
Matt Barnes9.97.8

Looking at the bench, there are more striking differences. At point guard for example, last season’s back-up Darren Collison scored 11.4 points per game, but he did average 25.9 minutes per game, due to starting numerous games for an injured Chris Paul. But, this years’ back-up to Paul, Jordan Farmer, who has played great defenses, distributed the ball well and run the offense more than competently, has been in a scoring slump, and in 14.1 minutes per game, has averaged only 3.7 per game. At back-up small forward, last year’s part time starter and part time reserve, Jared Dudley, score 6.9 points a game in 23.4 minutes. This year, that spot has been a wasteland, with Reggie Bullock and Chris Douglas-Roberts in a combined 22.1 minutes a per game producing 5.3 points. But, Dudley hit 43% of his shots. Bullock and Douglas-Roberts are hitting a combined 31%. Even sixth-man star certified shooter Jamal Crawford is slightly down from last season, 18.6 to 18.2.

Overall, the stats show little difference defensively from last season. In 2013-2014, the Clippers gave up 101.0 points per game to opponents, good enough for 14th place in the NBA. They gave up an opponent 44.1 shooting pct. This season so far, they've allowed opponents only 100.3 points per game that puts them at 19th in the league, but opponents are shooing at a
slightly better 45.6 pct. clip. However, the Clippers-Opponents scoring differential is down to 3.0 per game from last year’s 6.9.

Seemingly small and subtle changes can make a big difference. A two-point differential can makes the difference between who wins and loses a given game, and the stats are showing that the Clippers have not been quite as effective this season as compared to last year.

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