Chris Paul is NOT Lebron or Durant
We're not getting a Lebron or Durant, and we aren't moving to the East where we get an easier road to success. The quicker people realize that, the sooner they will at the least start appreciating the stars that we do have. That's really all their is to it. The Clippers were arguably a top 4 team in the league: Miami, SA, OKC, LAC, and they lost to one of the other top 4 teams. We have glaring faults we all knew about (SF position, backup C) that aren't related to our PG getting a sucky and stupid turnover when he averaged 23/4/12 on .611 TS%, whose presence on the floor always had the team playing well and who was our best player in the series.
CP's playoff production is above his regular season production, he was more aggressive, he took care of the ball as much as you can, he scored even more efficiently and at a higher rate, and that's all we can ask for. He isn't Lebron, he isn't Durant, so expecting him to be is futile as there are only two of those in the league. In the series, Paul evened out Westbrook, he scored about 5 points less a game, had the same scoring efficiency, got more assists, and had about 10 less turnovers (probably the biggest thing and caused the Clippers as a team to commit 5.5% less turnovers, about 5 less a game). Their production and impact basically cancelled out.
Chris Paul was by all measures a positive
Just think of all the games, when he came on / was on the court, whether Westbrook was blowing by him or he wasn't trying to attack enough by some people's standards, we played well and were better. That's how you know a player is high impact. Not only did our perception say this, the numbers back it up. The best way to see that something is really true is with multiple evidences. I believe the Clippers were (+) in the series when he was on the court. He screwed up in game 5 and we were still +11 when he was on the court. We won game 4 by 2 and he was +12, we lost game 3 and he was +4, we lost game 2 by 11 and he was only (-4)
Game 1 (+26) - 17 pt win
Game 2 (-4) - 11 pt loss
Game 3 (+4) - 2 pt loss
Game 4 (+12) - 2 pt win
Game 5 (+11) - 1 pt loss
Game 6 (-4) - 6 pt loss
A guy is only (-) in 2/6 games, and just (-4) in each and even still net positive for the team in those games. If we take out the blowout, he was +19 on the series while on the court. With the blowout, it is +36.
That's one set of stars, moving on to the next. Durant outproduced Blake by a decent margin, both in volume and efficiency, but we were expecting that I'd hope. He even matched him on the glass per minute, and that is one thing we keep wondering about Blake in the post season, his rebounding. Durant 33/10/5/4.0 tov./610 TS%, Blake 24/9/4/2.2 tov/.540 TS%. So among the 4 stars, we evened out at PG, but were in a deficit with the forwards, so we couldn't match their star production, which means our role players have to make it up.
Role / Complimentary Players
If we want to find places to blame, well here's the efficiency of of complimentary guys compared to OKC's:
Jamal: 14.2 ppg / 35.3% FG / 29.4% 3PT / .460 TS% / 95 Ortg
Redick: 12.2 ppg / 45.9% FG / 41.7% 3PT / .570 TS% / 114 Ortg
Barnes: 10.0 ppg / 39.0% FG / 31.4% 3PT / .487 TS% / 97 Ortg
Collison: 7.2 ppg / 40.0% FG / 00.0% 3PT / .461 TS% / 101 Ortg
Jordan: 6.9 ppg / 69.2% FG / 4/19 FT / .582 TS% / 100 Ortg
Ibaka: 11.3 ppg / 63.8% FG / 40.0% 3PT / .673 TS% / 115 Ortg
Jackson: 9.0 ppg / 42.9% FG / 33.3% 3PT / .541 TS% / 102 Ortg
Thabo: 6.2 ppg / 61.5% FG / 30.8% 3PT / .688 TS% / 131 Ortg
Adams: 5.0 ppg / 70% FG / .650 TS% / 139 Ortg
We are glossing over the reality that despite his vastly inferior scoring skills, Ibaka was a better offensive player than Jamal this series. A LOT better. Jamal had a 30.0% usage while on the floor, Ibaka had half of that with 15.2%. Our role players really didn't make up the deficit between Blake and Durant, Chris Paul not turning the ball over and being the main cog in limiting TEAM turnovers ended up being the main reason were were ahead or close in games. But not turning it over has its limits as we saw because we still needed guys that weren't Paul and Blake to make shots at a high rate (not 7/22 kind of making shots), and they didn't.
Skill vs Actual Impact
If the extra possessions Jamal used in comparison to Ibaka are spread to a guy with similar efficiency to Ibaka, and CP and Blake increase their usage to make up for it, they might be less efficient individually (or might not), but they would still beat Jamal's efficiency on those possessions, and combined with the super efficiency of this more contained role player, it is a positive for the team offensively. What kind of role player could this be? Well if you had Danny Green off the bench averaging 9-10 ppg on .600+ TS% in a more contained role, you actually net being fairly better on offense this previous series than with a superior individual offensive player in Crawford taking and missing a lot of shots, not to mention that you get extra defense too. That one extra made three or whatever means maybe you're up 16 or 17 instead in game 5, it means maybe you're closer in game 6, and in striking distance, etc. Yea, those little things make a difference when you're matching up similar level teams.
So yes, despite the ability to create, it hurts the team in the end when a complimentary player / scorer shoots a lot and misses a lot because those possessions could be used better. Missing a lot is always bad, but there are things that can at least alleviate it. 1) High level playmaking 2) Getting to the basket a lot and causing the defense to shift which again opens up playmaking with drive and kick, and might increase chances for offensive rebounds at the least. Sadly, Jamal tends to forget about playmaking and Jamal isolates a lot but shoots from the perimeter, so he doesn't even have the extras that while they don't make it okay, can at least soften the blow. Chris Paul and Blake Griffin iso ball even against a good defense can generally still get a team to produce average offense. Jamal Crawford iso ball doesn't produce the same results part of it is because those guys also consistently create and don't just look to score, but of course because they are high level stars / superstars, and Jamal is still just a role playing scorer and just below All-Star level at his best.
We were close in this series because we turned the ball over less. 5 less turnovers a game meant about 5-6 more PPG for us. Paul was the reason we didn't turn the ball over so much. OKC out shot us from the field in 4/6 games. The two they didn't were game 1 and game 5 even though we lost that one. Even in our game 4 win, they out-shot us, but we had 7 less turnovers and 6 more offensive rebounds, so we extended 6 more possessions and had an extra 7, and we won by just 2 points because they shot 5% better from the field and 7% better from the line. Paul's ability to be on the ball so much and not turn the ball over as well as Blake limiting his turnovers (and Jamal despite his horrific shooting) kept us in games and kept us in the series, but we were massively out-shot from game 2-5.
It is good to make shots, duh (including FT's)
OKC: .552 eFG% / 72.7% FT (16/22) / 16 TOV
LAC: .500 eFG% / 78.3% FT (18/23) / 14 TOV
Diff: -5.2 eFG% / +5.6 FT% / +2 FTM / -2 TOV
-this game we were only +2 in turnovers and got killed on the offensive glass (35.7% to 19.6%), so +2 turnovers and 5% FT isn't going to make up being out-shot by 5.2% and -6 on the offensive glass.
OKC: .595 eFG% / 85.7% FT (24/28) / 14 TOV
LAC: .489 eFG% / 84.0% FT (21/25) / 6 TOV
Diff: -10.6 eFG% / -1.7 FT% / -3 FTM / -8 TOV
OKC: .487 eFG% / 76.5% FT (26/34) / 16 TOV
LAC: .435 eFG% / 69.0% FT (20/29) / 9 TOV
Diff: -5.2 eFG% / -7.5% FT / -6 FTM / -7 TOV
OKC: .474 eFG% / 88.9% FT (32/36) / 12 TOV
LAC: .500 eFG% / 80.0% FT (16/20) / 16 TOV
Diff: +2.6 eFG% / -8.9% FT / -16 FTM / +4 TOV
OKC: .521 eFG% / 87.9% FT (29/33) / 15 TOV
LAC: .453 eFG% / 60.0% FT (12/20) / 9 TOV
Diff: -6.8% eFG% / -27.9% FT / -17 FTM / -6 TOV
OKC had 5 players who played significant minutes with a TS% over .600 (Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka, Thabo, Adams), Clippers had Paul and Davis. We were down 5.2% eFG% or more in 4/5 games. The difference between 40% FG and 45% FG, and I'll admit, the FT difference in games 5 and 6 is a bit wild, and we progressively shot worse and less at the FT line, but it was those 8, 7 and 6 less turnovers keeping us in games.
....and there ladies and gentlemen is why it is a TEAM sport. If you're so focused on trying to find out what the stars did or didn't do (and sometimes they are at the deficit, but not always), you'll miss all the little things that in a tightly contested series will make the difference between a win and a loss. We can talk about whether they deserved their FT's, blah, blah, but if we're talking about Paul, he scored a lot and efficiently, he created, and he limited his and the teams turnovers except for the little stretch. Now, if the role players don't make OPEN shots, cause if they weren't getting open then it is the offenses fault, but open shots, then well what are you going to do?
We had two options to give us the edge, not to crawl away with victories. 1) Blake matches Durant's offensive production in terms of volume and efficiency which just isn't fair, not just because Durant is better, but even considering who is defending each of them and 2) Our role players outplay their role players. Blake did fairly well, but he wasn't close to Durant's production, and our role players lost the battle of efficient role play (and defense), so we were living on one advantage the whole series and that was "Chris Paul doesn't turn the ball over much and doesn't let his teams turn the ball over a lot". That's not the best advantage to live or die on.