Ever since its formation in 2011, Lob City (also known as the Chris Paul-led Los Angeles Clippers) has been at the forefront of the NBA”s alley-oop game.
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Paul manipulates a defense as well as any point guard in basketball, and DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin are experts in making themselves available at the rim after CP3 creates the opening.
Paul and Jordan have been a particularly devastating alley-oop combo in recent years, but a team or two may be coming for the crown this season.
To determine the best combos in the league, we looked to the comprehensive shot-tracking data available at NBAsavant.com. The site has alley-oop finishes tallied dating back to the 2010-11 season.
Of importance here are the totals from the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons. The latter gives a basis for forecasting the rest of this year, while the former helps make up for how recently this campaign started.
5. Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond
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Alley-Oops Finished by Andre Drummond in 2015-16: 55
Alley-Oops Finished by Andre Drummond in 2016-17: 3
By necessity, the first combo here depends on forecasting. Reggie Jackson has yet to play a game this season because of a knee injury. When he comes back, expect lots of lobs to Andre Drummond.
Jackson averaged a career-high 6.2 assists last season, while Drummond poured in a career-high 16.2 points. Obviously, those numbers weren”t entirely the product of alley-oops, but those finishes did account for at least 1.4 points a contest for Drummond (not counting any completed three-point plays in the mix).
4. Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside
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Alley-Oops Finished by Hassan Whiteside in 2015-16: 60
Alley-Oops Finished by Hassan Whiteside in 2016-17: 6
The second combo on the list relies a bit on looking forward as well. Quite a few of Hassan Whiteside”s alley-oops from last season came from Dwyane Wade and Joe Johnson, playmaking wings who are now employed by other organizations.
Goran Dragic is still around, though. And plenty of the lobs Whiteside threw down came from him, too. With Wade and Johnson gone, Dragic figures to handle the ball in pick-and-rolls more this season, which will give him more opportunities to hook up Whiteside at the rim.
3. Dennis Schroder and Dwight Howard
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Alley-Oops Finished by Dwight Howard in 2015-16: 71
Alley-Oops Finished by Dwight Howard in 2016-17: 17
Want more evidence Dwight Howard is feeling rejuvenated as a member of the Atlanta Hawks? He”s the current leader in the clubhouse for total alley-oop dunks finished in 2016-17.
His new point guard, Dennis Schroder, attacks pick-and-roll defenders with about as much ferocity as anyone in the league. That forces helping bigs to overcommit, leaving the happier Howard alone in the paint.
2. James Harden and Clint Capela
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Alley-Oops Finished by Clint Capela in 2015-16: 32
Alley-Oops Finished by Clint Capela in 2016-17: 17
The man who threw alleys to Howard last season, James Harden, has a new favorite target for the oop in third-year big man Clint Capela.
He might have even been Harden”s favorite target last season.
“Houston Rockets management repeatedly pushed for Clint Capela to get more playing time at the expense of Dwight Howard last season,” ESPN.com”s Tim MacMahon wrote. “… League sources said input from face-of-the-franchise James Harden heavily influenced Houston management”s desire to decrease Howard”s minutes.”
Howard and Capela are currently tied in alley-oop finishes so far this season, but Harden”s gaudy assist numbers (12.6 per game) and Capela”s still-developing game suggest more production down the line.
1. Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan
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Alley-Oops Finished by DeAndre Jordan in 2015-16: 112
Alley-Oops Finished by DeAndre Jordan in 2016-17: 16
“I didn”t know this team was as close as it is,” Clippers point guard Raymond Felton said in October, per Dan Woike of the Orange County Register. “This team is actually pretty close. You hear a lot of negative stuff through the years about this team when you”re on other teams. But being here, this team is actually closer than you think.”
Few individual plays evidence that chemistry the Clippers have better than the CP3/DJ pick-and-roll. Each seems to know exactly where the other is at all times during a possession. And the communication on the lob and finish almost seems telepathic.
With Paul set to hit free agency this summer, there”s no guarantee this will last beyond 2016-17 (though the Los Angeles Clippers” play this year could make it hard to leave). So cherish these oops while they”re here.
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