With all the great new staff this year at Clips Nation, we thought it would be fun to do a massive staff Clipper prediction poll. All staff members were asked what they thought the Clippers' record would be this year — how will they finish in the Pacific Division? What about their playoff seed? And finally, how far will they go in the playoffs?
I think the Clips will win 53 games this year, finish second in the Pacific Division and grab a four seed. Yeah, I know, I know, I'm Mister Negativity, but there's too many changes in the Clipper coaching staff, no defensive stopper at the wing position, the East just got a little better, and the West is just as tough. Golden State looks better by subtraction (at coach) and life in the Pacific was never easy. But there's light on the horizon: GM/Coach Doc Rivers will make some magic come the trade deadline, find a suitable defensive wing, blend him into the mix, and take the Clips to the NBA finals — where they will manage to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in seven.
Wow, a fourth seed and a championship run? The bold prediction thread was a few weeks ago, Raffo. I'm not haggling the outcome though — I'm also picking the Clippers to beat Cleveland in the finals and bring home a Larry. But I'm much higher on their regular season prospects, since every other contender might have a few question marks too. How much of San Antonio's success last year was motivated by 2013? Oklahoma City was only a sliver better than LA last year, and Durant's injury is definitely going to drop them in the standings. Golden State and Memphis are both probably a half-step behind.
I think the Clippers will go 60-22 this year, good for 2nd in the West (and better than Cleveland/Chicago too). Only San Antonio will be better in the regular season, but LA won't have to face them in the playoffs, since the 4th seed Thunder will be back to full strength and bump the Spurs off in Round 2. Meanwhile the Clippers take down Golden State and get a rematch with OKC, who doesn't have home court this time around. I think they'll pull out that series in 6, then get Cleveland in 7.
Some pessimist — predicting an NBA title. I think Raffo's point about the trade deadline is accurate though. We can't know what small forward is going to go onto the trading block (or even the post-buyout waiver wire) but we do know a few things: (a) That player is going to have an opportunity with the Clippers that he almost certainly won't have anywhere else, and (b) he'll almost certainly want to play for coach Doc Rivers and with Chris Paul in a massive market.
On the other hand, I am looking for a regular season where the Clippers improve on their 57 win total from last season. Part of that is wishful thinking, not for the record but for the narrative. The Clippers have improved their winning percentage five years in a row and doing it for a sixth would be a new record — so I want that to happen. But I also think it will happen, for the simple fact that this team is better than last year's team. Hedo Turkoglu didn't join the team until January, but was immediately the top big man reserve. Then Glen Davis joined, and moved ahead of Turkoglu. The Clippers have both of them from the beginning this season, and they're both behind Spencer Hawes. That's THREE bench bigs MUCH BETTER than any they had last season. The math is pretty simple — better team = better record. Let's say 58-24.
Sadly, I'm less bullish on the playoffs. Teams that go from the second round to the title are few and far between. The usual story is a progression — and history would indicate that the Clippers will need to lose in the WC Finals or the NBA Finals before getting to the mountaintop. If you ask me who will beat them, I don't think I could tell you. Cleveland has a lot of moving parts. San Antonio is getting older. I hate the Thunder (super rational, I know). But for now, I'm a ring nazi — no rings for you, Clippers.
Personally, I see the Clippers as around a 57-win team again, winning a third straight division title, and getting the 2-seed, with a conference finals loss to San Antonio. I actually came very close to putting the Clippers out in the second round against Golden State. The Warriors are better in quite a few areas. The West is loaded and there's gonna be a lot of good teams. The Clippers cannot afford a slow start. Can't come out of the gates lazy. Anything between 54-60 wins wouldn't shock me. They have some warts that need addressing.
In the same way you're supposed to bet on the horse that takes a dump right before the race, I'm betting on the Clippers after all the crap they unloaded in the offseason.
I see the Clippers securing a third straight division title with a 60-22 record. Golden State will be right behind them the whole time, but good old fashioned hatred will push the Clips to remain in their rightful place as the Pacific's best. But not only that — they'll be the best in the conference too, and allow the Lakers the pleasure of a first-round playoff sweep (perhaps the boldest prediction of all — Lakers with the 8 seed?!)
The Clippers will meet the Spurs in the Conference Finals, win the first three games and then struggle to win the series in 7. In the Finals against Cleveland, Matt Barnes will bait an antsy LeBron into a confrontation that gets them both suspended for a game. The Clips' camaraderie gives them the edge and they win the 'chip on the road in 6. Days later, at the parade, I am personally thanked by Doc Rivers for my eerily accurate Clips Nation prediction and am presented a specially made championship ring with my Twitter handle engraved on it.
You all know me, I'm bullish. Definitely 60+ wins (after 57 last year, and setbacks aplenty) and I'll round up and say 63. Sadly, something goes sour in San Antonio, otherwise the Clips lose to them in the WCF. But with SAS battling fate, as we have ourselves for so long, the karmic wheel turns towards our great Nation. The Heat are gone and the battle for the West is the true championship. Blake Griffin is racing toward the MVP, fueled by the support and excellence of DJ and CP3. I don't think any of us are really prepared for what Blake Griffin is going to do this season. It will be a relentless assault that will steadily grow in intensity. The campaign is long and it will be very tough, but the Clippers will prevail. This is our time.
I am rather pessimistic for this upcoming season in terms of win totals, not due to anything Clippers related, but simply because of the strength of the Western Conference (and the NBA in general).
I think the Clippers will win the Pacific Division in a heated race with the Golden State Warriors, finishing with a record of 57-25. Blake Griffin will continue to build off of last season's breakout and move up to 2nd place in the MVP race behind LeBron James. Sometime during the season, Doc will make a move to pick up another wing, either via free agency or trade, possibly using Jamal Crawford.
In the playoffs, the Clippers will make it to the Conference Finals, finally triumphing over the Thunder, but will lose in 7 to the San Antonio Spurs, who continue to repeat as NBA champions. They will come off wiser for the experience, and with the Spurs a year older, will be ready to move to the next level in 2016.
I think the Clippers will finish the regular season with a 52-30 record because CP3 will get injured and Farmar will just never be healthy. The lack of a decent back-up at the position will come back to haunt our beloved Clips. We will finish 2nd in the Pacific Division and 5th in the West. Everybody will get healthy and start clicking in March and the team will enter the playoffs strong. The Clippers make it to the Western Conference Finals where they lose to the surprise Mavericks in 7 games.
Let me lighten the mood a bit. The Clippers have come to remind me of my other blue and red clad love, the New England Patriots. The Clippers have the look of a regular season monster. They're deep, they're well coached, and they're carried by Blake Griffin, an all-in every-night stud who rides a winning narrative and another Kia campaign to his first MVP award. The gauntlet of the West is punishing, but with Durant out for a significant chunk of season and Kawhi Leonard (literally) shooting for a max contract, the Clippers take the top seed with 61 wins, with the only in-season roster changes occurring at the end of the bench.
...aaaaaand that's where the good vibrations end. Earning the 1-seed only delays the inevitable, as the Clippers avoid the Thunder altogether but are whipped by a San Antonio club spurred by dreams of their first repeat championship. The Clippers succumb to a brutal reality: high effort and efficiency only get you so far against elite playoff competition. Major offseason changes follow as the team looks for an injection of size and athleticism at the wing positions.
I worry that the Clippers bigs have been unreasonably healthy over the last few years. Many long-time Clippers fans know that it has been rare for the Clippers bigs to stay healthy... and I think NBA fates are going to bring us back down to earth.
What if an injury to Blake Griffin takes him out for a big chunk of the season? The West is stacked, and without the 3rd best player in the league, the Clippers will struggle to make the playoffs, finishing 49-33. As a 6th seed, they will face the OKC Thunder, and will lose the series, 4-1.
If Blake stays healthy, the Clippers will finish with 59-23 record, make the playoffs as the 2 seed, and face the surprising 7th seeded Lakers. They will easily get by the team down the hall, to set up a rematch of last years 2nd round series, where the Clippers will knock the Thunder out in 6 games, and face the Golden State Warriors in the Conference finals. It will be a grueling 7 game series, with the Warriors edging out the Clippers in a double overtime game 7.
The Clippers have become trendy, like a shiny new toy. I don't think I've ever heard so many national pundits so optimistic about the team's chances. They have plenty of legitimate reasons, but replacing uncle Sterling's stench for a cool dad with candy seems to be attracting many onlookers, right around Halloween too. But — after all that candy comes a few cavities, headlined by the dreary small forward position and including some underlying subplots, like health, defense, an incredible Western Conference, and even the loss of Alvin Gentry.
I have higher hopes for the Clippers than ever, and for what feels like the first time, there's not one damn excuse to be had for this team to stop at all. This is the Clippers' time, but like Steve, I think there's an order of things when it comes to winning a title. The Clippers will get the 2 seed, finish a win or two ahead of last season's total, defeat the Thunder, and then lose to the Spurs in the WCF in a grueling 7 game series.
The Clippers will win 52-54 games this season and finish second in the Pacific Division just behind Golden State. However, the Clippers will still end up with home court advantage for the first round of the playoffs. They will get off to a slow start. However, by the trade deadline, Doc will have made a minor trade for a one-way wing player (defense, most likely). This will inject new life into the team, and they will go on a 10 game win streak after the trade deadline to stay neck and neck with Golden State. The Clippers will then lose in a heartbreaking game 6 in the Conference Finals to the San Antonio Spurs.
You know the old saying, "Opinions are like assholes — everyone's got one and everyone thinks everyone else's stinks." Well, that goes double for preseason predictions. Everyone's got one, they all stink, and they still stink even if they end up being right, since then it's basically nothing more than a lucky guess. The Cavs are going to win because LeBron? The Spurs are going to win because Spurs? The Clips are going to win because contrarian-point-of-view-that's-not-Cavs-or-Spurs? Great job, Nostradamus.
So yes, I'm an asshole, I've got a prediction, and it stinks. But here it is: THIS IS OUR YEAR. Sixty-plus wins, number-one seed, parade down Figueroa, the whole shebang. Why? Because if I'm going to pull a prediction right out of my rectum, it might as well be the one I'll be rooting for anyways. And being "right" about any other prediction wouldn't be nearly as satisfying as being "right" about this one.
From those desperate years ruined by Elton's achilles or Lamar's suspensions or the mere existence of Dan Dickau, it is difficult to approach a Clipper season with the kind of rational optimism with which most fans outside Philly view their team. Instead, I've learned to approach each season like I approach Tindr: assume the absolute worst, and hope you'll be pleasantly surprised/not catch something from a Laker fan.
But I've tried to shed that ingrained pessimism in the post-Sterling era. So, based on emails I've obtained from Adam Silver to the referees union outlining exactly how the season is supposed to end, I predict marginal improvement in the regular season: 59 wins in the hyper-competitive West, good enough for a 2 seed. We make the Western Conference finals... and then lose in devastating fashion to either the Thunder or the Warriors on a controversial Game 7 no-call by Tony Brothers, in which Blake is repeatedly hit in the head with a folding chair by either Serge Ibaka or Draymond Green. (PS — Is anyone else absolutely terrified of the Warriors freed from Mark Jackson? Bogut will break down again right? Right!?!?!)
Okay, so my peers have made some pretty wild statements here, from Debbie Downer estimates of less than 50 wins to possibly delusional predictions of well over 60 wins. On the one hand, the Clippers won 57 games in a ridiculously tough Western Conference, with a laundry list of ailments: injuries to Chris Paul and JJ Redick, inconsistent defense, 900 minutes of Hollins/Jamison/Mullens, and a North American Three-toed Dudley Sloth (Bradypus Dudleytus) starting at SF for most of the season.
Well, the West is still tough, injuries will probably happen again, and only the Jamollens problem was solved. For me, Hawes, more time with Doc's defense, and continued improvement by Blake are all worth a few extra wins, even assuming similar injuries occur.
Ultimately, the Clippers will finish 60-22, and will secure the #1 seed in the West, as the Spurs will
throw a few games to rest their stars spend time developing their bench. Dallas/Memphis will upset OKC/Golden State respectively, but they'll lose to the Clippers/San Antonio in the semis, leading to a Clips-Spurs WCF. The Clippers will fall frustratingly short in an epic 7 game series, the Spurs will dominate whoever they face from the East and repeat as champs, and I'll contemplate swearing off basketball forever.