Throughout the early stages of the 2013 season, the Los Angeles Clippers have come out on fire. Boasting the league’s best offense and scoring 110.0 points per game, Los Angeles is 7-3 and looking like a strong team that might have a shot to contend for a title.
Chris Paul has been the catalyst for what’s been an incredibly efficient offense. The Clippers have averaged 26.4 assists per game thus far, good for first in the league. Averaging the most points and most assists in the entire NBA is quite the testament to Paul’s season so far.
Paul, individually, is averaging 19.6 points, 12.8 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 2.9 steals per game. As one of the early MVP favorites, this veteran point guard has come out guns blazing. His execution of the offense under Doc Rivers’ system has been nearly flawless.
But, one small problem has left me wondering whether or not Paul and the Clippers can contend for a championship at the level required — in all aspects of the game. Although Paul has been stellar defensively, along with center DeAndre Jordan, this is where they have struggled as a team.
Los Angeles is currently 28th in the league in total defense and giving up 105.7 points per game. Looking at the stats as a whole, that means that the Clippers’ average margin each game has been plus-4.3 points. That’s not much.
While the offense has come easily, the team defense is far from where it needs to be. The Clippers are only 21st in the league in opponent three-point percentage (37.6 percent) and 25th in the league in total opponent field goal percentage, allowing teams to shoot 46.9 percent.
What this tells me is that the Clippers, especially on the perimeter, have a long ways to go defensively before they can think about a title. In the playoffs, this type of defense won’t cut it against teams like the San Antonio Spurs, specifically. Rivers and Paul have gotten their squad out to a fantastic start, but only on one side of the ball. Defense is an issue until further notice.