At fourth in the Western Conference this season, it's difficult to say the Los Angeles Clippers are vastly underachieving.
But at 13-10, they're much closer to the rest of the West than they are to the San Antonio Spurs (18-5) and the Golden State Warriors (24-0). The Clippers were supposed to be in that echelon this season, but things haven't gone as planned.
Following their most recent loss, a 83-80 defeat by way of the Chicago Bulls, Chris Paul voiced his displeasure with his team's play thus far, via the Orange County Register:
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As the O.C. Register points out, the Clippers' statistical profile is far worse than it has been in recent seasons.
But that's not what happened after Thursday's loss to the Chicago Bulls, when one of the Clippers' leaders was asked about facing a "struggling" Brooklyn Nets team on Saturday.
"We're struggling, too," Chris Paul said.
The Clippers are 13-10, currently the No. 4 seed in the West; the Nets are 7-15, second-to-last in the Eastern Conference.
And, Paul thinks these teams are similar.
He might've just been frustrated with the loss. He might've been bummed out about a sluggish performance, a bunch of easy shots missed and a lost opportunity to steal a win.
Or, he might've been speaking a deeper truth that's bubbling under the surface. Maybe, this means that more than a quarter of the way through the NBA season, and the Clippers know they're not very good.
In the Chris Paul era, the Clippers have never finished worse than fourth in offensive efficiency, or put up less than 108.5 points per 100 possessions. Right now they're 10th in offensive efficiency, averaging just 105.5 points per 100 possessions.
Moreover, the Clips are 16th in the NBA in defensive rating and 25th in defensive rebound percentage, suggesting that not only do they not get stops, but even if they do, they're giving up a bunch of offensive rebounds and second-chance points.
The Clippers' aging core simply isn't shooting the ball well or defending adequately, and it's left open the possibility that this core's best years are behind them, no matter how much better Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan get.
They might not be as bad as the Nets, but the Clippers aren't themselves and, right now, they're not true contenders.