When Chris Paul first missed time with his bruised knee cap in mid January, the Clippers proceeded to win three straight games without him, posting impressive road wins in Memphis and Houston along the way. I joked at the time that it was the worst thing that could happen to Paul's MVP campaign -- he wasn't really that important to the Clippers after all, they could still win without him.
It turns out that the Clippers were in that adrenaline-filled phase directly after a star is injured where everyone else steps up and plays great to make up for the star's absence. It can work for a bit (and may be some sort of short term effect of the Ewing Theory to use Bill Simmons' term) but it's not sustainable. The Celtics have experienced a similar situation after losing Rajon Rondo, but they'll clearly miss him before too long.
Sure enough, after those first three wins (and including three games in which Paul played, but was clearly far from completely healthy) the Clippers proceeded to lose eight of their next 12. Since his return to full health, they've won three in a row by double digits and again look like one of the best teams in the league. In raw numbers (and ignoring the Golden State and Miami losses where Paul was clearly not himself to avoid accusations of manipulating the data), the Clippers are 6-6 in games without Chris Paul this season, 32-11 in games with him. That 32-11 equates to a winning percentage of .744, six one thousandths behind Oklahoma City, right on the heels of San Antonio. If we take only games where Paul was closer to full strength, the team is more like 31-9, a .775 winning percentage.
The value of Chris Paul
Clips Nation | Feb 14