The Clippers are adjusting on the fly.
Not only would Los Angeles be cutting into their fragile depth chart, but the team would be sacrificing frontline size in the form of Marcus Morris and Nic Batum, two players that, while far from All-Star talent, were critical in matchups against the Western Conferences’ bigger teams.
Case in point: from the squad’s first game with Harden running the point on November 1st through November 30th, when the team finally began to come together, the Clippers allowed a mere 24 shots per game in the restricted area—ninth-best in the league—but allowed opponents to convert on nearly 70% of those shots—ranking in the bottom nine.
In other words, Los Angeles had retained their ability to compete at the point of attack and deny entry passes with their wing defense but faced significant vulnerabilities on their second line once defenses probed past the Leonard/George front. Even more concerning, however, was the team’s performance on offense.
Obtained primarily thanks to his ability to send the Clippers offense into the stratosphere, LA somehow managed to score less with Harden than before his arrival, racking up 110 points per game through the team’s first six games with their new star, ranking a mere 26th in the league during that span.