As recently as mid-December, many NBA observers were preparing obituaries for the Clippers’ 2017/18 season and proposing trade scenarios involving potential 2018 free agent DeAndre Jordan. Within the last two weeks though, the Clips have dug themselves out of an early-season hole, winning six of seven contests and pulling to within a game of a playoff spot in the West.
The Clippers’ recent success can be attributed at least partially to improving health. Noteworthy offseason acquisition Danilo Gallinari remains on the shelf, but Blake Griffin is back in the lineup, as is first-year point guard Milos Teodosic. While Teodosic’s numbers (8.9 PPG, 5.3 APG, .343/.310/.786 shooting line) are modest, L.A. seems to be a better team when he’s in the rotation — the club is 9-3 when Teodosic plays, and just 8-16 when he doesn’t.
Lou Williams, acquired in June’s blockbuster Chris Paul trade, has also been a key part of the Clippers’ latest winning streak. Since the start of December, Williams has been one of the NBA’s top scorers, pouring in 25.7 PPG and chipping in 5.8 APG.
The new-look Clippers are playing like the team that many fans and experts envisioned heading into the season, one that was expected to compete for a back-end playoff spot in the Western Conference. Still, while the Clips are getting closer to the top eight in the West, they’re still just 17-19 overall, and they’ve been streaky all season — another string of losses before next month’s deadline could once again alter the team’s short-term outlook.
How do you expect the rest of the Clippers’ 2017/18 season to play out? Will they continue to play well and move into playoff position? Will they slip in the standings and seriously entertain the idea of moving Jordan before the trade deadline? Or will they ultimately hang right around where they are now, not quite good enough to make the playoffs, but not quite bad enough to become trade-deadline sellers?
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