While many NBA teams crave a fast-paced, high-scoring offense, is it possible the Los Angeles Clippers are a little too good when it comes to scoring the ball?
As ridiculous as it may seem, a recent study by Chris Herring of The Wall Street Journal suggests just that.
According to Herring, the “fun” NBA teams rarely win titles. With the Clippers down 3-2 in their Western Conference Semifinals against the Oklahoma City Thunder, their potential exit would continue this trend.
Since the NBA’s first season in 1946-47, only 10 teams that led the league in scoring went on to win the title. Just two of those have been since the 1970s, none since 1998. And statistically speaking, there has been a slightly negative correlation between a fast-paced team’s number of possessions a game in the regular season and winning in the postseason, according to Stats LLC.
The Clippers, led by All-Stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, finished the season first in scoring with 107.9 points per game. Their offensive rating of 112.1 was the highest in the franchise’s 44-year history.
Eight players scored at least eight points per game or more, led by Griffin’s 24.1 per contest. Paul led the backcourt with 19.1 points, while Sixth Man of the Year winner Jamal Crawford put up 18.6 a game.
Los Angeles finished third in the league in field goal percentage at 47.4 percent, trailing only the 2013 NBA Finals participants Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs.
While scoring is nice, history tells us that teams who lead the league in points typically struggle when it comes to winning titles. Herring takes a look back at some of the most prolific scoring teams in history and their alarming lack of rings.
Whenever the NBA produces a team like this—a team whose weapons light up the league during the regular season—it never ends well in the playoffs. The 1980s Denver Nuggets, for whom 120 points constituted an off night? Never reached the Finals. Chris Webber‘s brilliant Sacramento Kings? Ditto. Steve Nash‘s run-and-gun Phoenix Suns? Sorry. Doesn’t work in the playoffs, the naysayers say, and unfortunately, they are always right.
While the Clippers haven’t officially been eliminated yet, they’ll need to fight back to win the final two games in their series against the Thunder. From there, a matchup with the defending Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs likely awaits. Should the Clippers somehow advance past the Spurs, they’ll almost certainly have to do battle with the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.
Will the Clippers be the latest high-powered offense to fall victim to an early playoff exit, or will they be the team to finally end the streak?