National Basketball Association

Are the LA Clippers the deepest team in the NBA?

March 13

It isn't often that a team can lose the reigning Sixth Man of the Year and still have great roster depth from top to bottom.

But when it comes to the LA Clippers, that just might be the case this season.

Since losing forward Montrezl Harrell to the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency this past offseason, the Clippers have not missed a beat. They sit fourth in the Western Conference, with a record of 25-14, and have one of the premier offenses in the NBA.

They rank first in the league in 3-point shooting, at 42%, while ranking fifth in scoring, with 115.3 points per game.

LA's dominant offense throughout the roster led Skip Bayless to declare the Clippers the deepest team in the NBA.

"The Los Angeles Clippers rank No. 1 in the league in 3-point shooting. The Los Angeles Clippers rank No. 1 in the league in free-throw shooting... The Los Angeles Clippers are the deepest team in the league."

How does a team that lost the Sixth Man of the Year manage to stake a claim to the deepest roster?

The answer, besides two star wings in Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, is by committee.

Offseason acquisitions Serge Ibaka, Nicolas Batum and Luke Kennard have paid off for the Clippers, with the trio averaging a combined 27.6 points per game.

What's more, it is clear there is strength in numbers when it comes to the Clippers' reserves. The team's bench is once again one of the strongest units in the NBA, ranking first in 3-point percentage (42.5%), second in points (40.8) and third in field-goal percentage (47.3%) and free-throw percentage (82.9%).

That makes for the perfect complement to the Clippers' starters, who average 74.4 PPG. Four of the Clippers' five leading scorers are starters Leonard, George, Ibaka and Marcus Morris Sr.

When you combine the numbers off the bench with the strength of the starting unit, do the Clippers have a legitimate claim as the deepest roster in the NBA?

The Clippers have 10 players averaging at least 7.5 PPG, but some other NBA teams that can claim to be just as deep.

The San Antonio Spurs, another Western Conference playoff contender, boast eight players averaging at least 10 PPG, the most of any team in the league.

The Phoenix Suns, Atlanta Hawks, Indiana Pacers and Miami Heat each have seven players averaging double figures in scoring.

The Clippers have only five such players on their roster.

But what the Clippers lack in double-digit scorers throughout the roster they make up for with an unrivaled stable of shooters.

LA is the only team in the NBA that has eight players shooting at least 40% from 3-point range, with Reggie Jackson (39.8%) falling just short of giving the team nine such players.

In the playoffs, in which every possession matters and it's more difficult to score against the best defenses in the NBA, having that many reliable shooters will give the Clippers an advantage against most teams.

With their elite bench and solid starters, their 3-point prowess and multitude of scoring options, the Clippers are once again making their case as one of the deepest teams in the NBA.

If they are indeed the deepest team, the Clippers could be on their way to the franchise's first trip to the Western Conference finals — and possibly beyond.

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