There's a remarkable consensus surrounding the Los Angeles Clippers in the various Power Rankings this week. Eight out of nine rankers slot the Clippers into the seven spot, and all of them have the LAC behind the same top six teams (in some order, the Pacers, Spurs, Heat, Blazers, Thunder and Rockets. Which is fine. Those six have all been playing well (bear in mind these rankings were all published prior to losses for Indiana and Houston last night). Most of the pundits go one step further with the Clippers -- seven of nine make some mention of J.J. Redick's injury and it's potential impact on the team. Only John Schuhmann of NBA.com has the Clippers lower than seven, with the Denver Nuggets pushing them down to eight in his case.
|ESPN.com||Marc Stein||7||You cannot understate how well J.J. Redick has been playing alongside CP3. Yet as long as Redick can recapture that form when he returns in two months, L.A. should cope in the short term with Jamal Crawford and Willie Green filling the void. Frontcourt D is still the bigger long-term worry.|
|Yahoo.com||Marc Spears||7||The Clippers have turned to Willie Green to replace J.J. Redick, who is out six to eight weeks with a broken hand. Green had two points against Indiana on Sunday.|
|SI.com||Matt Dollinger||7||The Clippers are going to miss J.J. Redick more than you think. In their first game without him, L.A.'s shooting guards combined to shoot 1-of-9 from three-point range. Look for Chris Paul, the league leader in assists, to shoulder more of the scoring burden in Redick's absence.|
|CBS Sports||Matt Moore||7||They can talk about Lob City being over all they want. This looks an awful lot like previous Clippers teams, including the inability to get stops.|
|Pro Basketball Talk||Kurt Helin||7||The J.J. Redick loss will hurt, Willie Green is a big drop off. Despite this Clippers are going to be a top four seed and one of the best teams in the West this season, but their postseason success may hinge on the front office strengthening the bench near the trade deadline.|
|NBA.com||John Schuhmann||8||You just can't keep Willie Green out of the Clippers' starting lineup for very long. Chauncey Billups' injuries forced Green to start 60 games last season and now, with J.J. Redick out 6-8 weeks with a broken hand, Green is back as a starter, having played just 52 minutes in the Clips' first 17 games. Doc Rivers went with two point guards on the floor for 10 minutes in Sunday's loss to the Pacers.|
|NBA.com||David Aldridge||7||Clips have to do better than middle-of-the-pack in defensive rating, especially against elite teams, if they're going to be a late May-early June outfit.|
|SB Nation||Jason Patt||7||The Clippers suffered a tough break when it was announced that J.J. Redick would be out six to eight weeks with a fractured right hand and torn right UCL. Redick's presence has been huge for the high-powered Clippers offense, as they have an offensive rating of 112.5 when he's on the court, per NBA.com's stats page.|
|USA Today||7||The only way anyone was going to catch Chris Paul in assists was to injure all of his shooters.|
It's also worthwhile to look at non-human rankings, which eliminate emotion and aesthetics and other human bias and look strictly at the numbers so far. The two most basic metrics are winning percentage and margin of victory -- both of which had the Clippers seventh through games of Sunday. So it seems possible that the pundits did little more than look at the standings in ranking the Clippers this week.
Of course, schedule matters, and the Clippers have played the second most difficult schedule in the league to date, far more difficult than any of the six teams that every human pundit puts ahead of them.
The Clippers are currently ranked fourth in RPI, which blends the team's winning percentage, the team's opponents' winning percentage, and the team opponents' opponents' winning percentage at a 25-50-25 ratio to come up with a weighted value.
The Clippers are ranked third in the Simple Rating System on basketball-reference.com, which blends the team's margin of victory and their opponents' cumulative margin of victory to account for strength of schedule.
In John Hollinger's algorithm, strength of schedule, home and away record, margin of victory and recent performance are all taken into consideration. The Clippers come in at sixth by that measure.
In other words, in any data-driven metric that takes schedule into consideration at any level, the Clippers are always better than the seventh position assigned by the pundits. Of course, none of the automated measures are able to account for the absence of Redick (beyond the Pacers loss), which could balance out the difficult schedule in the end.