Clippers close to reaching elite benchmark

As the Clippers continue to roll, they are close to reaching an elite category.

Paul George, Jayson Tatum, LA Clippers
Paul George, Jayson Tatum, LA Clippers / Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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As we reach the midway point of the NBA season, it is clearer than ever that the LA Clippers are among the league's elite. Sitting at 30-14, they stand just one game back of the top seed in the Western Conference. With Minnesota and Oklahoma City set to square off Monday night, LA is guaranteed to enter Tuesday as the two seed.

The story for the Clippers this season has been about buying in to a goal bigger than any individual accolade. Guys like Paul George, James Harden and Russell Westbrook have stacked up every individual honor in the book, but they are all still searching for that elusive first championship. By agreeing to sacrifice for one another, the Clippers have reached the level of a top-tier contender.

As of this writing, the Clippers are projected to win 58 games and finish with the first seed in the West, both of which would be franchise firsts. They are also on the doorstep of reaching the "40 before 20" threshold, an elite benchmark first termed by Phil Jackson. According to the legendary coach, if a team can win 40 games before losing 20, they can be classified as a legitimate threat to win a championship.

The Clippers can join the "40 before 20" threshold

Based on what they have shown us so far this season, there is no reason to view the Clippers as anything less than one of the best teams in the association. They have now won 22 of their last 26 games after looking like an abject failure to start the season.

The way this team has rallied together around the common goal of bringing the Clippers their first ever championship has been inspiring to watch unfold. By all accounts, this season would appear to be their best chance at a championship in the Kawhi Leonard-Paul George era.

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