The Clip show
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The first four games of the Los Angeles Clippers' season have confirmed what we already knew: going from Vinny Del Negro to Doc Rivers is about as big of a coaching upgrade an NBA team could make.

The Clips are running -- they're averaging 102.15 possessions per 48 minutes, fifth in the NBA -- and gunning -- they've attempted the second most 3-pointers -- while averaging a league-high 116.6 points per 100 possessions, nearly seven more than the second-place team.

Under Del Negro last season, Los Angeles averaged 93.56 possessions per 48 minutes, 12th fewest in the league.

Rivers also has tightened up the Clippers' rotation and given more minutes to his top players.

Last season, Del Negro's top six -- Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford, Caron Butler, Matt Barnes, DeAndre Jordan -- played a combined 169 minutes per game.

This season's top six -- Paul, Griffin, Crawford, J.J. Redick, Jared Dudley, Jordan -- have played a combined 190 minutes per game.

The change from Del Negro to Rivers has made a big difference for the Clippers' two fantasy stars, Paul and Griffin.

After recording averages of 16.9 points and 9.7 assists in just 33 minutes per game last season, Paul has played nearly 36 minutes per game so far and is averaging 26.5 points and 13.3 assists. He's attempted 2.8 more shots, 0.7 more 3-pointers and 5.2 more free throws per game than 2012-13.

Paul hasn't averaged 20 ppg since 2008-09 or 10 assists since 2009-10, but he looks to be a sure bet to reach both plateaus in his first season under Rivers.

Griffin, meanwhile, has had his ppg and rpg decline in each of the last two seasons after averaging 22.5 ppg and 12.1 rpg as a rookie. He posted averages of 18 points and 8.3 rebounds last season.

Part of the problem was that he played just 32.5 minutes per game in 2012-13, down from 36 the previous season.

He's back up to 37 minutes per game through the first four contests this season, and is averaging 20 points, 10.3 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and 1.0 steals.

Center DeAndre Jordan has played big minutes as well.

Jordan played just 24.5 mpg and averaged 8.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.4 blocks last season, but he's averaging 34.3 minutes, 11.3 points, 11.3 rebounds, 1.8 blocks and 1.5 steals this season.

While the pace and level of efficiency Los Angeles has played at this season aren't quite sustainable, the Clippers should remain one of the NBA's highest scoring clubs and an extremely fun team to watch.

Rivers already has a grasp on who his best players are and how to use them most effectively, which are two things Del Negro struggled with throughout his Los Angeles tenure.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Thomas Harrigan at tharrigan@sportsnetwork.com.

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