Projecting the new look LA Clippers

This weekend, on scratch pad, I projected the number of wins I expect from the new look Los Angeles Clippers, based upon the number of wins produced by the players on their roster over the last three NBA campaigns.  Here is what I came up with:

Win Projection for 2011-12 LA Clippers

C Paul 10.7 wins
B Griffin 10.4 wins
C Billups 3.7 wins
E Bledsoe 2.6 wins
C Butler 2.8 wins
R Gomes 1.8 wins
R Foye 0.7 wins
De Jordan 4.1 wins
M Williams 1.7 wins
T Thompkins 0.9 wins
TOTAL 39.4 wins

Method and Analysis

In order to project the number of wins, I used a weighted average of each player’s win production over the past 3 seasons.  I counted last season 3 times, two seasons ago 2 times, and three seasons ago once.  I then estimated the number of minutes each player would play based upon age, injury history, and the number of minutes played over the past 3 seasons.

I project the Clippers to win 39.4 games, which translates to 48.8 games over an 82 game schedule.  Thus, the Clippers have moved themselves into the lower echelon of playoff contenders in the Western Conference, on par with the Denvers and the Portlands, but not the OK Citys or the Dallases. 

The Clippers now clearly have two NBA elite players in Chris Paul and Blake Griffin, but they still have too much junk on their roster to qualify as championship contenders.  When I say “junk” I am referring to players like: Ryan Gomes, Randy Foye, Mo Williams, and probably rookie big man Trey Thompkins.  These players are “loss producers”.  Gomes and Foye have consistently produced losses throughout their careers, and I expect they will continue to do so if given sufficient minutes.  Williams has shown the capacity to be a 0.500% win producer, but last season he was awful and I expect he will continue to trend that way.

The “borderline” players on the roster are Chauncey Billups, DeAndre Jordan and Caron Butler.  Chauncey is getting old and fading, but is probably still a plus 0.600% win producer.  Butler is injury-prone and may not be the 0.500% plus win producer he has been throughout his career.  Jordan was mediocre in his first two seasons but really came on strong last season.  He will continue to be above average, I believe. 

Trey Thompkins, the Clippers’ rookie big man from Georgia, does not project well.  He has size, but his key college statistics are below average.  He is a below average 2pt shooter and below average rebounder (compared to the class of big men who were drafted this summer).  He may need work.

Finally, we have point guard Eric Bledsoe.  He did not project well, but had a decent rookie season.  My gut tells me he will go backwards this season.  We shall see.

Conclusion

The Clippers have massively upgraded their win potential over the past three seasons with the addition of Blake Griffin and now Chris Paul.  But they are still not at championship contender level (generally, around 57 wins).  They have too much dead weight left on their roster.  They must upgrade their overall talent if they ever want to dream of putting a banner above their rafters.

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